Historical Timeline

On this page you will find a brief outline of the history of the Mission to Waimea from the perspective of the current Stone Church congregation.

History of the Waimea Mission

Written for the Bicentennial Celebration in 2020


May 3rd, 1820: The brig Thaddeus came to Waimea with Rev. Samuel Whitney (wife Mercy Partridge) and Rev. Samuel Ruggles (wife Nancy) along with George “Humehume,” son of King Kaumualii. They received a very positive reception, but the missionary families returned to Oahu shortly after arrival.


July 1820: the missionaries returned to Kauai. The Ruggles soon went off to Hanapepe to establish the mission there.


For the Whitneys, King Kaumualii built a small thatched meetinghouse about 200 yards mauka of the present highway on the eastside of the river.


In 1824 King Kaumualii died. He had been a patron and warm friend to the Christian mission. After his death an uprising took place. Governor Kaikioewa was appointed to rule over Kauai by King Kamehameha. He was also a good friend to the missionaries and became a Christian in 1830.


In 1826 A large thatched church (90’ x 30’) was built by Kaikioewa where the present stone church now stands.


In 1834 the thatched church was burned down at the instigation of a prisoner and replaced by a stone and mud church at a cost of $276.


By 1846 the foundation of the mud and stone church was failing, so the present stone church was started. Rev. George Rowell (an architect and cabinet maker) was called in from the Waioli Mission in Hanalei to provide the expertise. Queen Deborah Kapule (widow of King Kaumualii) provided oxen to haul materials.


It was a poor time to start building. The people had no money. Influenza had decimated the congregation. Rev. Rowell reported that by 1847 only a few stones and a little lumber were cut. People had to haul ohia lehua trees down from Kokee and plane them square for the thirty-foot rafters. The walls of the new church were built of limestone that was dug from the ground mauka of the road and dragged there to the site over a mile away. A limekiln was constructed in the churchyard.


By 1853 the walls and roof were completed. The first worship in the Stone Church was held in 1854. The floor and pews were only completed by 1858.


In 1865 a congregational schism caused Rev. Rowell to depart from the church and erect a new wooden church makai of the current highway (now the Ohana Niihau Ekalesia). The membership of the Stone Church dwindled until the building stood empty.


In 1885 a strong storm blew the shingles off the roof and the boards flew off the belfry. Still the frame of the roof and the belfry stood intact—a tribute to fine workmanship.


In 1886 Mr. Paul Isenberg was in Waimea on one of his periodical trips to places of interest. He saw the pitiable condition of the Stone Church building and started a campaign to save the structure. He raised $1,800 with which the roof was re-shingled and the belfry boarded up. The area around the church was overgrown with no access to the building.


In 1894 the local population had greatly increased due to sugar production and some folks wished to establish the Waimea Foreign Church Society. The stone structure was properly repaired with the help of the plantations and much volunteer labor.


In 1895 Rev. Massie was called to be the new pastor. From this point on regular ministry continued at the Stone Church uninterrupted.


In 1930 the church was renovated. A new floor was put down. The belfry was reconstructed. The roof was re-shingled.


In 1978 Volunteer labor cleaned up the long-neglected left hand side of the cemetery and grass was planted. A columbarium was financed by the pre-sale of niches.


In 1979 Handrails were installed.


In 1982 Hurricane Iwa hit Kauai. The bell tower was toppled. From pictures of the original the new bell tower was built.


In 1984-5 Baird Hall was constructed adding a fellowship room and first ever restrooms to the church site.


In 1986 a sidewalk between the Stone Church and Baird Hall was laid. An access ramp was also constructed. Ceiling fans and pew cushions were also replaced.


In 1988 The Stone Church roof was re-shingled. Plans to replace the floor were made.


In 1992 Hurricane Iniki (a category 5 storm) lifted the roof of the church off and collapsed part of the back wall. The interior of the church was gutted. Careful historical reconstruction of the Stone Church continued for the next two years.


In 2008 a concrete driveway was poured.


In 2016-17 a new lanai was attached to Baird Hall. A kitchen was built—first time the church had a kitchen. A church office and nursery classroom were also constructed. Again, first time that the church has had a regular office and classrooms on site. 



By Rev. Dr. Olaf Hoeckmann-Percival, 2020