Makiki Christian Church
A Brief History
For many people, the two most dominant elements of Makiki Christian Church’s 100+ year history would likely be the Rev. Takie Okumura, founding pastor of the church, and the “castle church” building itself. Rev. Okumura made a lasting contribution not only to the church in Hawai`i, but to the entire emerging community in the 50th state. And the architecture of the castle tower, tenshukaku, has become a part of Honolulu’s historic skyline.
Rev. Takie Okumura left Nu`uanu Congregational Church after serving eight years to start a new church under the auspices of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (forerunner of the Hawaii Conference United Church of Christ). His assignment was the eastern Honolulu area, which encompassed the Makiki, Manoa, Kaimuki and Waikiki districts.
April 8, 1904
Rev. Okumura, his assistant Kametaro Maeda and 24 believers founded Makiki Christian Church, held services in Japanese and met in a small rented cottage.
1904 – 1906
The first church was constructed on a site at the corner of Kinau and Pensacola Streets with 400 persons in attendance. The first service was held in September 1906. By 1914, membership increased to 502 and the church became self-supporting.
A junior church was organized for the second- and third-generation adolescents and young adults. This group formed the core of the English-speaking congregation. Thereafter, sermons were given in English on a regular basis.
On a site at the corner of Pensacola and Elm Streets, a new building was erected in the design and splendor of a Japanese castle. The church’s unique architecture was modeled after Kochi Castle.
The adjoining social hall and classroms were completed after additional funds are collected.
Makiki’s first “home-grown” missionary, Julia Motoyama, was sent overseas to Japan.
When World War II began on December 7, 1941, Hawaii was placed under martial law and meetings at night were banned. Military chaplains and servicemen took part in worship services and other activities during the war years.
Peter McKnight was appointed as the first pastor to work solely with the English-speaking congregation.
A branch mission begun by several members of Makiki at Kailua Christian Church became a full-fledged body of the United Church of Christ.
The torch of leadership passed from the Japanese-speaking to the English-speaking congregation when Rev. Paul Nagano became senior pastor and Dr. Toraji Makino was installed as Japanese Division associate pastor. The English-speaking division was already more than twice the size of the Japanese-speaking division.
The new Christian Education Building was constructed to accommodate the overflow of Sunday School age children for classes and other activities.
January 5, 1965
Makiki Christian Church Preschool opens its doors to children in the nearby community as a witness for the church during Rev. Dr. Chester Terpstra’s tenure as senior pastor (1963-1969). Marge Terpstra, Ph.D. was our first preschool director.
Hawaii Kai United Church of Christ, another branch mission of Makiki’s, attained full-fledged status as a UCC church.
Elderly Ministries (Nozomi No Kai) was established by the Japanese-speaking division. Later, in 1995, this ministry was transferred to the English division due to the dwindling numbers of Japanese-speaking participants and was renamed Hope Fellowship or Older Adults Ministry.
April 18, 2004
Makiki Christian Church celebrates its 100th year of service to the Lord and to our community. The celebration was attended by more than 800, including Makiki’s home-grown missionaries, former Makiki pastors and their spouses, members of the Okumura Family, as well as guests from the Fukuin Koyu Kai (Japan Gospel Fellowship), Okinawa Domei Kyodan (Evangelical Alliance Mission of Okinawa), the Osaka Church (mother church of Rev. Okumura), the Tosa Church and their friends in Kochi, the hometown of Rev. Okumura. An exhibition of our 100-year history was held at the church and at the Japanese Cultural Center of Honolulu.