History of Waipahu UCC

Historical Timeline

 

1929

Waipahu Evangelical Church was established with the Rev. F Santa Ana

 

1929

Hiro Higuchi served as a Youth Worker at the YMCA & the Community House.

 

1934

Hiro Higuchi served as Religious Education Director of the Community House.

 

1938

Waipahu Community Church is officially recognized; worships at the Japanese Methodist Church.

 

1941

Hiro Higuchi leaves to join the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Battalion.

 

1946

Hiro Higuchi returns to Waipahu Community Church: 1946 – 1950.

 

1948

Mokuola Street Property is leased from Ii Brown Estate; ground breaking for Parish Hall.

 

1948

The Rev. Arthur Koch, Associate Pastor: 1948 – 1950

 

1950

Parish Hall is completed and dedicated on March 26.

 

1950

The Rev. Arthur Koch: 1950 - 1951

 

1951

The Rev. Seido Ogawa:  1951 – 1960

 

1951

The Waipahu Evangelical Church      celebrates its 26th Anniversary

 

1959

The Rev. James Saeger, Minister of Music and Youth: 1959 - 1960

 

1961

Waipahu Evangelical & Waipahu Community Churches merged.

 

1963

The 2.75 acre Mokuola Street property was purchased for $36,780 from Hung Wai Ching.

 

1977

October 16 Ground-breaking for sanctuary.

 

1979

April sanctuary is completed at a cost of $350,000 and dedicated.

 

1980

Miracle Fund establish by Rev. J. Norris to pay off mortgage for sanctuary.

 

1980’s

Waipahu UCC helped to mobilize opposition against H-Power in Waipahu.

 

1981

Waipahu UCC Child Care established; and closed in 1981

 

1987

After paying $1,000 a month for 48 months, the mortgage document for sanctuary was burned.

 

2005

Plans developed to renovate the Social Hall.

 

2013

Social Hall renovation completed and renamed the Community Center.

Waipahu United Church of Christ (Waipahu UCC) has a rich historical background starting….

 

In the Spanish Camp of the Oahu Sugar Plantation in Waipahu, the Waipahu Evangelical Church established in 1929 was serving the Filipino immigrant sugar plantation workers and led by the Rev. Flaviano Santa Ana; and one-hundred fifteen (115) members of the Waipahu Community Church led by the Rev. Hiro Higuchi were worshipping at Methodist Church in Waipahu in 1938.  The Waipahu Evangelical and Waipahu Community churches faithfully carried out their ministries in Waipahu serving two ethnic populations, the Japanese and the Filipino.

 

Looking back to the early 1900s, you find…. the Hawaiian Evangelical Association, the Hawaiian Board of Missions (Congregational) and the Hawaii Mission of the Methodist Church were established to serve the different ethnic groups working at the sugar plantations in the Aiea, Ewa, Pearl City, and Waipahu towns. The Women’s Board of the Mission of the Hawaiian Board of Missions supported and focused its ministry on the junior and senior high students in Waipahu at the Waipahu Community House, where the Rev. Hiro Higuchi served as a youth worker at the YMCA and the Community House from 1929-1930.  He left to study at the University of Southern California and returned in 1934, to serve as the Religious Education Director of the Waipahu Community House.

 

The Waipahu Community House served many youngsters from the YMCA.  A “Junior Church” organized around the young people at the Community House, was not recognized as an official church. In 1938 when the Junior Church was finally recognized as an official church, the Rev. Hiro Higuchi and 115 members of the Junior Church left the Waipahu Community House and moved to their church to the Japanese Methodist Church, located in the Spanish Camp in Waipahu and renamed their church the Waipahu Community Church.  The Issei Japanese Methodist congregation was served by the Rev. Utanosuke Fujishiro, and the English speaking group was served by the Rev Higuchi. When the World War II started, the Rev. Higuchi left the church and joined his former YMCA boys in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Battalion, US Army. After the war, he returned to Waipahu Community Church and served from 1946 – 1950.

 

 In 1948, the church leased the present 2.75 acre Mokuola property from the Ii Brown Estate and built a Parish Hall which was completed in 1950 by volunteers from YMCA and church members, friends, and 442 veterans. The congregation agreed that they will:

  • Become self-supporting within one year; and
  • Begin an immediate building fund drive to build a church.

 

 In 1961 the Waipahu Evangelical Church and Waipahu Community Church merged to form the Waipahu United Church of Christ.  The members from both

churches were deeply grounded in their faith and the resources they brought with them strengthened the new founded church---rich in ethnic and cultural  

diversity, talents, leadership and most importantly their faith.

 

After leasing the Mokuola Street property for 15 years, the church purchased the 2.75 acre property from Hung Wai Ching for $36,780 (30 cents per square foot) in 1963.

 

The Rev. Higuchi returned to Waipahu UCC in 1977 and built the sanctuary.  Groundbreaking for the sanctuary was held on October 17, 1977.  It was completed in 1978 at the cost of $350,000 and dedicated on January 1, 1979.  After the completion of the sanctuary he left Waipahu UCC in May/June 1979 and passed away on November 7, 1981 at the age of 74 leaving a legacy as a “builder of churches”.  He helped build many churches in Pearl City, Manoa Valley, Lanai City, and Waialua and at Waimano Home.

 

In 1979, the Rev. John Norris helped the church raise funds to help pay off the mortgage for the sanctuary by establishing a “Miracle Fund”.  After paying $1,000 per month for 48 months, the mortgage was paid and the event was commemorated by burning the mortgage document.

 

A pre-school was opened and operated by Mrs. Mary Los Banos from 1965 -1967; then from 1976 – 1980 the Hawaii Child Center operated the pre-school.   Waipahu UCC started the Child Care Center in 1981with Head Teacher Elsie Kihano and Amy Sakuma as Pre-School Committee Chairperson; and followed by Debbie Kihano Palakiko and then by Nancy Okimoto as the Head Teachers; and finally closed in 2003.

 

The area around the church changed with the extension of Hikimoe and Mokuola Streets and the development of the Civic Center across from the church in 1986. Now Mokuola Street extends from Waipahu Street to Farrington Highway.

 

In 2005, the church started to plan the renovation of the Social Hall by writing grants, establishing a Capital Building Fund, and designing a plan to develop a facility open to community organizations and an adult day-care program.  The renovation was completed in 2013 and the facility is currently used by 14 organizations including an adult-day care program that is being operated by the Age to Perfection.

 

Today (2015) the City and County of Honolulu Rail Project, presently under construction, will run close to the church with a rail station a block away from the church.

 

Waipahu UCC Ministers:

1960             The Rev. Herbert Eggleston:  1960 - 1965

1965             The Rev. Nelson Kwon:  1965 - 1969

1970             The Rev. Philip Brink:  1970 - 1972.

1974             The Rev. Robert Shimoda:  1974 - 1976

1977             The Rev. Hiro Higuchi:  1977 - 1979

1979             The Rev. Dr. John Norris:  1979 - 1985

1985             The Rev. Christopher Eng:  1985 - 2005        

2009             The Rev. Dr. Norma DeSaegher:  2009 – 2014

 

Resources:  www.100thbattalion.org/history/veterans/chaplain/hiro=higuchi/

“History of the Waipahu United Church of Christ.” Waipahu HI 1961 University of Hawaii Library,         Hawn.BX9886 Z7 W355

Yamaguchi, Ethel. “The Building and Its Ground”

 

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