Kauaha‘ao Congregational Church
Kahu Debbie Wong-Yuen
95-1642 Pinao St
Waiohinu HI 96772
P.O. Box 622
Naalehu, HI 96772
The legend behind the Church’s name is taken from a message shared on Saturday, July 19, 1986, by the Rev. James “Kimo” P. Merseberg, at the dedication service for the newly constructed Multi-Purpose Building, which is now also serving temporarily as the Church’s Chapel.
“Consider a sacred word basic to the Church. The word is a confession of faith from Philippians 2:11. The confession of faith is: “Jesus Is Lord”.
In pre-Christian times, when it rained in Waiohinu, people living here saw more than drops of water falling. They saw a distinct design in the rainfall. In fact, it fell as a distinct procession of ranks, one after another. The rain which falls in ranks is what the name Kauaha‘ao means. And, that was probably all it meant in pre-Christian times.
Then, in the 1700’s, still before Christian contact, when Chief Keouaahuula had ruled Ka’u, his kahuna or priest Kuakahela saw in the processional pattern of this rain, the resemblance of a chief leading an entourage of attendants. Kuakahela poetically described Chief Keouaahuula as “kuu kahu i ka ua o haao” which is translated, “my lord in the ha ‘ao rain”.
In 1841, after Christianity had taken roots on the island of Hawaii, this beloved Church was organized by the Rev. John D. Paris and was named First Hawaiian Congregational Church of Waiohinu. Many years later, the members officially changed the name to Kauaha‘ao Congregational Church. They felt this was a significant and appropriate name for the Church, because they saw in the processional pattern of the ha‘ao rain, a natural symbol of the One to whom the Church belonged. They believed that by God’s design, the ha‘ao rain depicted the Church as a community of faithful devotees led by the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.
Today we rejoice that in our generation, this confession of faith is still proclaimed here. We rejoice that on the basis of this confession of faith, this Church honors all people and makes room in the ‘ohana for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
The first House of Worship was a grass house built on stone. The second, built of stone in 1843, fell from the great earthquake in 1868. A third was soon built, but burned down in 1877. The fourth was built in 1880, and was taken down in April 1998 due to the structurally unsafe condition.
This small membership congregation embraces its theme: “Rooted in Faith…Serving in Aloha”, and takes responsibility together and individually to honor the Lord in worship, in prayer, in applying the truths of the Lord’s Word, in fellowship, in ministry to the community and in mission to the world. We pray that in God’s time, He will lead us in building the new permanent Sanctuary where the last one stood.