Hawaii's Road to Statehood: #3

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Hawaii's Road to Statehood: #3

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island , Kauai , Maui , Oahu
Aug 20, 2009

Not always, but most stories start at the beginning.  This story about Hawai'i's road to statehood, then, really starts with Kawaiaha'o Church--or, at least, what it represents.  If it wasn't for the missionaries, the Kingdom of Hawai'i might not have become a territory of the United States and, later, a state.  Then again, it may have, although the story may have played out much differently.

In 1820, Christian missionaries arrived from America.  On July 21, 1842, the "Great Stone Church" was dedicated, making it the first permanent Western house of worship in Hawai'i.  Building it was no small task.  The white stones you see in this picture are giant coral slabs, hewn from ocean reefs.  That's right, the rocks on which this church was built were quarried from under water.  Each slab weighed more than 1,000 pounds.  Some 14,000 slabs were hand-chiseled, carried and stacked here.  The project started in 1837 and completed five years later.  Many Hawaiian monarchs were baptized, married and crowned here.  Twenty-one royal portraits hang in the upper gallery.

But before this church came to be, the area was once a dry, barren place, save for a sacred spring on what is now church grounds.  It is called Ka Wai a Ha'o, The Water of Ha'o, named after a high priestess who used to bathe in the circular pool.

These days, some 160 years after Kamehameha III led 5,000 worshippers in dedication of the "Westminster Abbey of the Pacific," the church continues to serve--Sundays at 9:00 a.m.

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