Haili Congregational Church

Hilo Hawai'i

"Proclaiming Jesus Christ to Hawai'i and the World"

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History of Haili Church


The working of God can be documented in the early history of Haili Congregational Church.  First, God used the zeal of Henry Opukahaia, the first Hawaiian convert to Christianity, to inspire New England missionaries to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his native land.  Secondly, six months prior to the arrival of the first missionaries at Kailua-Kona King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) broke the kapu system of pagan worship.  Thirdly, with the spiritual vacuum created by the loss of the kapu system, the response to the Gospel was tremendous on the eastern side of the Big Island, especially through the preaching of Rev. Titus Coan, one of the missionaries of the early Hilo Mission.


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Haili Church & Mission House in 1849

Redrawn from a sketch by W.D. Alexander by S. Hironaka - 1928

ʻŌpūkahaʻia – The Inspiration for the Hawaiian Mission


In 1808, a young Hawaiian boy, ʻŌpūkahaʻia, swam out to the ‘Triumph’, a trading ship anchored in Kealakekua Bay.  Both of ʻŌpūkahaʻia’s parents and his younger brother had been slain during the battles on the island.


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Letters from the Aliʻi


Excerpt: Practically every vessel that visited the North Pacific in the closing years of the 18th century stopped at Hawai‘i for provisions and recreation; then, the opening years of the 19th saw the sandalwood business became a recognized branch of trade. Sandalwood, geography and fresh provisions made the Islands a vital link in a closely articulated trade route between Boston, the Northwest Coast and Canton, China.  At the same time, the Hawaiian demand for American goods was rapidly increasing, owing to the improved standards of living.


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History of the Micronesian Mission.

By a former Kahu of Haili Church, Tuck Wah Lee


Excerpt: Religious efforts that are purely domestic are not enough to keep the graces of a strong church in vigorous exercise, much less to raise up infant and feeble churches. This is strikingly seen at the Sandwich Islands, (Hawaiian Islands) where experience has shown the impossibility of developing the graces of the native churches, as they need to be, without constantly directing their attention to foreign objects. So evident is a foreign missionary spirit indispensable in those churches that members of the Sandwich Islands mission have proposed the forming of a new mission in one of the numerous groups of coral islands lying some two thousand miles farther west, -- either in the Caroline or in the Kingsmill group, - to be sustained, in part, by contributions and laborers from the native churches at the Sandwich Islands, … And the Prudential Committee, entering fully into these views, have recommended to the Sandwich Islands mission to take the subject into immediate consideration, and, if the thing be as practicable as it appears to be, to propose such a mission to the native churches.


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National Register of Historic Places Registration.


Haili Church is listed in the national register of historical places. Click below for documents pertaining to the registration.


National Register of Historic Places Registration

National Register Listed

National Register Notes


211 Haili Street

Hilo, Hawai'i 96720


Telephone/Fax: 808-935-4847

Email: office@hailichurch.org


144 Desha Avenue

Hilo, Hawai'i 96720