Hofgaard's Historical Manuscript

Baybrook's Historical Manuscript

Waimea Foreign Church Early History

On this page you will find two historical documents, one written by C.B. Hofgaard and the other by George W. Baybrook. You may use the navigation bar above to lead you directly to the respective reports or just scroll down to read both.

Excerpts from Kauai Historical Society Manuscript
by C.B. Hofgaard

Rev. Geo. B. Rowell was transferred from Waioli Mission and came to Waimea the following year, 1847, and he reported that the stone meeting-house, built in 1834 of stones and mud had fallen down, and the foundation for a new Church 86 x 42 had been started. It was a poor time to start raising funds; the people had no money, and the Influenza had decimated the congregation, and all the churches in the islands were poor. A call had been made to the different churches, and from the church of Kealakekua was received a contribution of $20.00 and from Koloa $50.00 and also some others. Generally the common people did the work for the chief, but Waimea was unfortunate in not having a chief, and Mr. Rowell reported, that by the end of 1847 only a few stones and a little lumber was cut. It is a wonder, how this work was accomplished. People had to go back into the mountains some fifteen-twenty miles, cut down Lehua trees, trim off the branches and haul them by man-power to the site. Some of these sticks were

forty feet long for the tie-beams and eight inches square, when trimmed, and the sticks for the rafters were also eight inches square and about thirty feet long. How did the missionary fathers get the people of the church to do this work for nothing or next to nothing? The walls of the new church were built of coral rocks, that they dug from the ground on the mauka side of the road in the lowest part of the land, now belonging to the Waimea Sugar Mill Co., and dragged from there to the site, over a mile away. Father Rowell was an ingenious man and constructed a drag, and Deborah Kapule, the widow of Kaumualii, who lived at Wailua, came over herself to Waimea and brought two yoke of oxen, and she herself acted as overseer of transportation. From the smaller pieces of coral-rock Father Rowell burnt lime in a lime-kiln, constructed in the church-yard. I saw it there, shortly after I came to Waimea (in 1885). The tremendous labor involved in obtaining timber from the mountains and getting the coral-rock and lime is an epic of pioneering hardship and perseverance.

The roof was on the walls in 1853, and all the work completed during 1854, and the first meeting was held during that year, but first in 1858 the floor was laid and the seats built. The work on building the seats, windows and doors was done by white workmen. I do not know when the blinds for the doors came, but they were here in 1885 packed in boxes under the gallery in the church. Services in Hawaiian were held for many years.

Father Rowell left the Hawaiian Board of Missions and started an independent church for which the Hawaiian church in the village was built (in 1874, I believe).

The carpenter work on this old church was exceedingly well done; the frame of hardwood in the belfry was all mortised and tenanted, and the staff on top of the belfry was made by Father Rowell himself; the ball on top of the staff was of hollow hardwood and covered with gold leaf, and the putting on the gold leaf had to be done in a closed room, so it would not blow away, while he was working.

In 1865 there were considerable difficulties in the congregation which ended in a great law-suit between the Board of trustees and others, and the case was settled by the Supreme Court on August 7th 1869, when the Supreme Court found one Board of Trustees irregularly elected and ousted same, and the disposition of the property was left in the hands of the original trustees, consisting of John Kauai and others. As there was no election of trustees any more, they acted, til the membership dwindled down and away, and consequently the church building stood empty. When I came here, the most of the trustees were dead, and no new ones had been elected, as all the Hawaiians were worshiping in the little church in the village.

In 1885 we had the heaviest rainstorm, we ever had since I came to these parts, and all the shingles blew off the roof, and the boards flew off the belfry, but still the frame of the roof and belfry stood intact, square and plumb, a tribute to the workmanship. Some time in the fall of 1885 or the beginning of 1886 Mr. Paul Isenberg was here on one of his periodical trips to the places, where he was interested, as Lihue, Koloa, and Kekaha. He saw the pitiable condition of Waimea church building and started a collection list with $100.00 and I remember Mother Rice was next to him on the list. He handed the list to me to get sufficient contributions, probably because I had a lumber yard and was in the contracting business. I succeeded in collecting about $1800.00. I reshingled the church and covered the belfry with boards to preserve it from further ruin. In this condition the church building stood for another nine years in the middle of the fields. The whole place round it was covered with rocks, and there was no road to it for several years. There was a road from the main road to the little school-house, which stood in the Makai eastern corner of the school-lot, and there was another road running diagonally over the land, now partly used as a ball park and up to the front of the Whitney and Rowell houses, which road was continued across the present cane fields past Huluhulunui, Waiawa to Mana. A little later the plantation started to plant cane all round the church, and a road was cleared in front of the school and the Church.

When the haole population of the district had increased to such extent, that we thought, we ought to have a church of our own, we decided to start the Waimea Foreign Church Society. In March 1894 we had collected money for repairs of the church, and on March 17th of that year we had a meeting for organization, at which H. Morrison was elected chairman, and John A. Palmer was elected secretary, and the Waimea Church Society was started. The first Board of Trustees was: H. Morrison, President; C.B. Hofgaard, Vice President; T. Brandt, Treasurer; A. Robinson, Auditor; John A. Palmer, Secretary; and in the same year we repaired the church. The church building stood quite a distance inside of the lot, but when the present society started, the stone-fences were shifted from a straight line across the Makai side of the lot to lines from the corners of the church lot to the corners of the church.

The church had before 1885 had a plaster ceiling but that had all been washed away in the big rain of that year, so we put in a board ceiling. There was a low platform on which the pulpit was placed, but during the incumbency of the Rev. W. M. Massie 1895-1901-, this platform was replaced with the present pulpit. When we repaired the church in 1894 we painted the old seats, but the work was done by an incompetent workman, and the paint was sticky. We tried for several years to find something to remedy the stickiness, but to no avail, so we got new seats, the seats we use now.

The original window weights were of lead, but during the years the building stood empty, the fishermen of the district broke open the window-casings and removed the weights, and they were replaced with iron weights.

When the Waimea Church Society was started in1894, the old Rowell house was rented for a parsonage and was so used til 1918 when the house belonging to Mr. A. Robinson above the Waimea Hospital was rented for a parsonage and is the residence of the pastor till the present time (1930).

In 1908 the organ in the church was given to the Hawaiian Congregation as funds for a new organ had been raised, and the present organ was installed.

In 1912 the church was painted inside and renovated.

We have had the following ministers of the Waimea Foreign Church Society:

Rev. Virgil Boyer 1894-1895

Wm. Mearns Massie 1894-1901

H. E. Banhan 1901-1904

Mr. Greeley, resigned before he arrived on account of poor health.

C.D. Milliken 1905-1916

Marcos Carver 1917-1925

J. L. Martin 1925 - unknown.

Whereas all the financial support and all the expenses of the Society has been and is carried by the four plantations of the district, the Board of Trustees had mainly consisted of the managers and head-overseers of the plantations and has consequently changed with the changes in the personnel on the plantations. Mr. T. Brandt and myself being the exceptions. MR. Brandt was a trustee form the beginning till his death in 1925, and I have been a trustee from the beginning and am still serving.

This year (1930) we have again repainted the church, putting down a new floor, reconstructing the belfry, reshingled the roof and put everything in order. In order to put in the new floor, it was necessary to remove the old foundation of the floor, which was resting on the ground, and many of the floor joists were decayed, and in order to have the new floor off the ground, a lot of dirt had to be removed, so as to have ventilation under the floor, and we hope the old church will give good service for many years to come."

Waimea Foreign Church
By George W. Baybrook, May 3, 1970, Waimea, Hawaii


"The Waimea Foreign Church was formally organized on the evening of March 17th, 1894, at the “Makai Church,” (undoubtedly referring to the Hawaiian Church).  H. Morrison was named chairman and J.A. Palmer secretary for the meeting.  As far as can be ascertained, the church was thus organizing because there was no English Church, or service, on the Westside of the island, The nearest being in Koloa.  Among other things, the “subscribers” at this first meeting adopted the by-laws of Central Union Church of Honolulu and elected a board of trustees, and a majority expressed the desire for “a congregational form of worship”

According to Ethel Damon in her book, Koamalu, Paul Isenberg of Lihue, also associated with Kekaha Sugar Co., began a repair fund to fix the Old Stone Church built under the leadership of Rev. George Rowell but left unused due to Mr. Rowell’s separation from the HEA.

The FC records indicate that in 1888 a repair fund was started and repairs begun, and work continued through the first half of 1891.  Also just prior to and during the formation of the church repairs were in progress.

The history of the church naturally divides into four periods.  The formulation period, Episcopal period, Second World War period, and the Larger Waimea Parish period.  The formulation period begins with the formal organization of the church in 1894 and ends with the calling of Rev. Carver in 1917.

Though adopting the Central Union by-laws, the church through this period actually put into operation only a part of them.  There was no board of deacons chosen nor was there a Standing Committee selected, and further there were no members if the church, as such.  Instead there were “subscribers”, those who gave and attended the services of the church. They were the “members” and it was they who met each year to elect the officers of  the church who during this period were 7 persons making up a board of trustees.  In between meetings of the subscribers, the trustees carried on all the business of the church, both spiritual and temporal.  It was also decided that first year not to have, for the time being, any kind of creed and also not to have an offering during the worship service. 

Not until a church meeting in 1912 is there any mention of women as participating in the life of the church.  Since the church has never had its own educational facility, the meetings through the years have been held at the Hawaiian Church, the Community Hall, the Court House, and the School Cafeteria, as well as at Mike’s during the later years, and in private homes.

After the resignation of Rev. Milliken in 1916, the Trustees for some reason wrote to the Episcopal Bishop of Hawaii (or perhaps he wrote to them initially) seeking help in obtaining a new minister.  Up to this year, the church’s relationships had been primarily between the Episcopal Church and a basically community, congregational church. This era was to last from 1917 through 1940 when Rev. Martin resigned.

Again in 1925 the church obtained a new minister, as a replacement for Rev. Carver, through the Episcopal bishop in Hawaii.  This second Episcopal minister was the Rev. Jadi Martin.  The climax of this period, and perhaps the most important meeting in the history of the church, came on May 26, 1938, at the Waimea Community Hall with 61 persons present.  It appears that through the 30’s there was more and more agitation on the part of some subscribers of the church for (1) a more definitively organized church; (2) to change the name of the church; (3) and to affiliate with some denomination, especially Episcopalian.  Evidently there were others who wanted to affiliate with the HEA and to not recall the present minister.  The result was the calling of a meeting of all interested persons to get their opinion and a subsequent Trustees meeting to take final action.  The result was (1) the FC would remain independent.  (2) The name would be left as is (the vote was close 24 to 26).  (3) Rev. Martin was called for another year.  (4) Steps were to be taken to establish a regular church organization. 

Evidently because the effort to make the FC and Episcopalian Church did not go through, a request came from the Kekaha Episcopal Mission to use the FC building for Episcopal services as well as to redecorate the interior of the FC so as to make it more acceptable for the Episcopalian form of worship.  This was voted down.  This period ends with the decision on January 23, 1940, to sever relationships with the Episcopal Church in Hawaii and to not call Rev. Martin for the ensuing year.

The third period of the history of the FC naturally begins with the coming of Paul Denise.  With the calling of the Rev. Denise as minister in 1940 the church resumed its initial informal relationship to the HEA.  Mr. Denise was already serving in the area under the auspices of the HEA when called by the FC.  These years of the Second World War and following appear to have been stellar years in the life of the FC.  There was much activity, seemingly great interest, and much accomplished.  There were preludes to what today is the Larger Waimea Parish with the invitation to the Hawaiian and Chinese Churches to join in worship and program, and a little later the Sharing of Mr. Denise’s time with the Christian Church.  During this period other races began to be a part of the FC and as many as 70 people would attend the annual meetings; held at the high school cafeteria.

Structurally this time was a high point in the life of the church, for the long-time discussion of a more definitively organized church was finally settled.  On June 3, 1941, it was voted to put into effect that part of the constitution providing for a Standing Committee (presumably the Central Union by-laws adopted in 1894).  On January 17, 1944, it was voted to have a regular membership list.  It also appears that at this annual meeting a council was established in place of the previous Standing Committee.  Then at the Annual Meeting of February 6, 1945, it was voted to reaffirm the constitution, by-laws, and articles of faith of March 1894.  The reorganization of the church came to a climax at the Annual meeting of February 26, 1946.  There was presented a revised constitution and by-laws and articles of faith, all of which were adopted and which are still in force today.  Finally in March of that same year, an official list of members was established.

The fourth and final period of the FC history begins with the coming of the Rev. Albert Stearns and continues to date.  There were four particular concerns through this period.  Only one of the three, the name of the church, remains unresolved until the present.  Through much of this church’s 76 years there has been the attempt to change the name of the church because of the now (it is felt) inappropriateness of the word “Foreign”.  (There was a time when each island had its “Foreign Church”.  This is the only church in Hawaii that has retained it.)  During this latter period the effort seems to have intensified, but without success.

Another concern that had existed for some time, and that finally was settled, was the matter of title to the church property.  The property must have originally been given by the King of Hawaii or the Governor of Kauai to the American Board for use by the Waimea Church.  In 1867 the Hawaii Supreme Court awarded the property to the “Hawaiian Board” adherents.  In 1894 the charter members of the FC obtained permission from the HEA to use the property after 1894 and during the early part of this century.  The FC Trustees felt that they held title.  However, in 1956 the Territory claimed it owned it but settled for a payment of $150.  So at the Annual meeting of February 7, 1956, it was voted to acquire the property from the Territory.

The third concern is one that came up from time to time during the life of the church, and that was its relationship to the HEA.  Finally, at the Annual Meeting of January 22, 1959, it was voted to have the church join the KEA “as an independent non-denominational church”.  The joining was put in these terms because of the long standing tradition of the church as a “Community Church”, permitting people from various denominations to become members.

Next to the climactic church meeting of 1938, this 4th concern and decision was probably the most important one in the history of the church.  This was the matter of uniting with the Congregational Churches in Waimea:  Waimea Hawaiian and Waimea Christian Churches.  All through this period this possibility is discussed, beginning as early as 1948.  Increasingly, the FC and the Hawaiian Church worked together; namely, sharing the same minister and a joint Sunday School.  It appears that in 1960 the three churches had some experimental joint services and in 1961 efforts were intensified with at least two of the churches (Hawaiian and Foreign) appointing committees to explore this area.  Also, in November of this year, the HC and FC had a joint council meeting, and in January of 1962 plans were worked out for joint worship services between the two churches during that spring.  At that year’s Annual Meeting it was voted to continue the committee that was working on closer ties between the three churches.  Finally, with the resignation of the Rev. Paul Morimoto from the CC in the fall of 1962, the CC, at the beginning on 1963, asked to join the joint worship service of the Hawaiian and Foreign Churches and to share in the yoked services of their minister, Dr. Chester Terpstra.  This was climaxed at the FC’s Annual Meeting of February 18, 1963, when it was voted to have the CC join with the HC and FC in a joint worship service and to consider further cooperative efforts.  With the leaving in August, 1963, of Dr. Terpstra, the three churches together called the Rev. George Baybrook as pastor of the Larger Waimea Parish. 

A word about the parsonages.  For its first 43 years the FC did not have its own parsonage.  During the first 24 years it appears that the church rented the Gulick-Rowell House (original Mission Home – 1829) for the minister’s use.  In 1918, Aubrey Robinson offered the use of “Kanaana”, the present parsonage, which was built, it is thought, in 1826 by Governor Kaikioewa.  In 1935 it was rebuilt by Mr. Robinson and was acquired by the church in 1937 as an inheritance from Mr. Robinson.

First Board of Trustees:  Otto Isenberg, C.B. Hofgaard, H.P. Faye, A. Robinson, H. Morrison, Th. Brandt, and J.A. Palmer.  First Officers: President, H. Morrison; Vice-president, C.B. Hofgaard;  Treasurer, Th. Brandt;  Auditor, A. Robinson; Secretary, J.A. Palmer.  First baptisms (1894):  Selwyn Robinson, Margite Bochgrrvink, Alexander Lindsey, Elvira Blackstad.  Long-time officers:  C.B. Hofgaard, trustee for 37 years, approximately 15 of these as president. E.A. Knudsen, trustee for 37 years, 18 as president.  Lindsay Faye, 35 years as trustee, 14 as president.  Alan Faye, trustee for 31 years, 7 as treasurer.  Sinclair Robinson, trustee and secretary for 52 years.  Long-time members still associated with the church today:  Selwyn Robinson, Eleanor Robinson, and Lindsay Faye.

Pastors:            Virgil Boyer  1894-1895

                        W. Mearns Massie  1895-1901

                        H.E. Banham  1901-1904

                        Charles Milliken  1904-1916

                        Marcos E. Carver  1917-1925

                        Jadi Martin  1925-1940

                        Paul Denise  1940-1946

                        Walter Schilling  1947-1948

                        Albert Sterns  1948-1953

                        Glenn Fisk  1953-1957

                        Norman Bengel  1957-1959

                        Robert Lindegren   1959-1961

                        Chester Terpstra  1961-1963

                        George Baybrook  1963- present


By:  George W. Baybrook, May 3, 1970, Waimea, Hawaii.  Credits:  Ethel Damon.

(“HEA”: “Hawaiian Evangelical Association”.  KEA”:  Kauai Evangelical Association”)."