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Koloa Union Church celebrates centennial

KOLOA — Kei Osuga celebrated a special Sunday at Koloa Union Church.

Kei celebrated a birthday on Sunday, announced Rev. Dr. Alan Akana during Ka Pule O Na Kanaka, translated to mean “Prays of the People” phase of the special centennial service. And, not only was it Kei’s birthday, they also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Koloa Union Church, which was chartered on Oct. 21, 1923.

The centennial service climaxed a week of celebrations that overlapped with the Koloa Plantation Days festivities, including a tour of the parsonage used by the Waterhouse and Smith families, and Koloa Union Church being named grand marshal of the historic Koloa Plantation Days parade.

There were also the preparations involved, including the creation of a float depicting the current church by the Chair of the Board of Deacons Michael Horning and friends, who helped in filling the shoes of the grand marshal.

Previous pastors of the church, including Father John Lunn of Moloka‘i and Rev. Dr. Nani Hill of Hawai‘i Island, visited and participated with the church during the parade and centennial service.

“The Church was also recognized as the Grand Marshall for the 2023 Koloa Plantation Days parade, celebrating its long history in the Protestant Congregational Christian tradition, dating back to the founding of the first church in Koloa in 1835, consisting mainly of indigenous Hawaiian people,” states a proclamation from the mayor’s office to celebrate the centennial.

The proclamation celebrating the Koloa Union Church’s 100th anniversary provided a summary of the church’s growth. Phyllis Kunimura, founder of the Koloa Plantation Days celebration, also served as Board of Deacons chair to connect the church to the community celebration.

“Since establishing the first congregation in 1835, the Christian witness in Koloa has been strong,” the proclamation states. “From its earliest days, the mission station provided worship services, Sunday school, and prayers for the spiritual –well-being among early Hawaiians.”

The mission also provided medical doctors and facilities to attend to the physical health of the residents of both Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau. As the Koloa Plantation grew alongside the church, workers from different parts of world were brought in. The church provided worship services for these people in their own languages, as well as health care.

On Oct. 23, 1923, the church — adding members from diverse cultural backgrounds including Japanese, Filipino and American — was chartered as the Koloa Union Church.

“Today, the church is an ‘Open and Affirming’ congregation of the United Church of Christ where all are welcome to worship and serve God i9n a supportive community of faith,” announcers of the Koloa Plantations Days parade said. “Today, at Koloa Union Church, many cultures are united as one ‘ohana.”
Source: The Garden Island

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