When a young Hawaiian by the name of Henry Opukaha‘ia sailed to New England, even he did not know the impact he would have on Christianity in Hawai‘i. While in the United States, after making the decision to become a Christian, he begged his teachers to send missionaries back to the Hawaiian Islands.
Opukaha‘ia died before he could see his wishes become reality, but in 1819 the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for the Congregational Churches (predecessor denomination of the United Church of Christ) sent its first missionaries to Hawai‘i. The Board charged them “…to aim at making people of every class wise and good and happy.”
Following their arrival in Kailua-Kona, the first missionaries began to hold worship services. More missionaries came and in 1823 the Hawaiian Association of Ministers and Churches was formed. This organization became known as the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (HEA) in 1853.
In 1957 two churches, the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, merged to form the United Church of Christ. The UCC is thus one of the youngest protestant denominations in the United States, yet its roots reach back to the 16th century.
In 1959, the year Hawai‘i became a state, HEA voted to join the United Church of Christ. HEA later became known as the Hawai‘i Conference United Church of Christ (HCUCC).
History of the
Hawai‘i Conference of the United Church of Christ
Henry Opukaha‘ia, first Hawaiian convert to Christianity
Missionaries preaching under kukui groves in 1841