“It was in 1934 that the pioneers among Japanese Adventist took decided steps to unite as a self-sustaining congregation in Honolulu. The year 1934-35 is marked as the point from which this congregation has been blessed by our Creator for fifty years. Some are living and active today who can recall the fun and trials that unfolded in the formative years preceding the formal organization of their church.”
Hiattkawa, R. (1985). The Anatomy of a Church.
A commemoration of fifty years of Japanese Adventists in Honolulu, p 11.
On January 6, 1940 this church became the twelfth Adventist church organized in the Territory of Hawaii. Elder John Fulton, missionary to the Pacific Islands, was the principal speaker as 30 charter members transferred by letter from the Keeaumoku Adventist Church. The “Termite Place”, an old mansion across from Cartwright Playground, was the first church home. Shortly, the congregation moved to the chapel of Hawaiian Mission Academy on Makiki Street where services were held until August 1967.
Worship service for Japanese-speaking Adventists were a concern of Dr. and Mrs. James Kuninobu as early as 1928. Their efforts, added to those of Walla Walla College graduate Gensuke Matsuda, helped establish a nucleus of Japanese Adventists in Keeaumoku church, the forerunner of the Honolulu Central Church. Dr. Kuninobu’s efforts to bring a Japanese-speaking pastor from Japan were realized in 1934 and the Japanese Adventist grew within the Honolulu church.
Within two years of the 1940 organization of the church the members faced an uncertain period of serious consequences. Americans of Japanese ancestry were devastated by the reaction in the United States following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Church members recall those months generally with silence on the matter.
Postwar years were marked by a dream to purchase property and build a sanctuary. From August 1953 spots were hopefully reviewed to Moiliili and Kalihi. Finally in 1964 an avenue opened to secure the Jackson College grounds on Manoa Road. Financially troubled Jackson College, a Baptist school established on the grounds of Judge Cooper’s old Manoa estate, was purchased through the efforts of real estate developer Walter Zane. The Cooper mansion, built of Australian granite in 1895, was renovated by the church members. It became the center of worship in 1967. Immediately ground was broken to build the steep-rooted sanctuary building that dominates the grounds today. The A-framed sanctuary was built entirely by church-donated labor. Building materials were paid on delivery and at first service on December 20. 1969, no liens of mortgages existed.
At the sacred service of dedication on February 7, 1970, Pastors, Shohei Miyake, Hideo Oshita, Robert Nomi, and Harold Kono were in attendance to testify to 30 years of patient work. On Sabbath, January 1,2000, the congregation celebrated its 60th anniversary and also dedicated the building which now provides a chapel for the Japanese speaking division, classrooms for the Cradle Roll, Primary, and Junior Sabbath School divisions, and much needed additional parking.
In the past 74 year the church has been served by the following pastors, Richard Among, Lyle Arakaki and Associate Pastor Koji Nishikawa, John Abbott, and the actual pastor Mark Duarte.
The world has been enriched by the youth that grew in this church to testify of the Spirit of God.