Kona Church Receives $250K Grant From National Fund for Sacred Places

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Named one of the United States 11th Most Endangered Historic Sites, Mokua‘ikaua Church in Kailua-Kona, has received a $250,000 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, a national historic preservation grant-making program. The funds will be used to help underwrite a much-needed restoration of Hawai‘i’s first Christian church.

Mokuaikaua Church stands unique among historic landmarks in the Islands, as the first founded church in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. PC: Becker Communications.

Earlier this year, Mokua‘ikaua Church launched a capital campaign, “Campaign of Spiritual Renewal” to raise funds to protect the state- and nationally-recognized historic treasure. Built in 1837, the stone structure is anchored with massive cornerstones repurposed from ancient heiau on land provided by Kamehameha II. The oldest post-contact building on Hawai‘i Island also features lime and coral mortared walls and magnificent ‘ōhia post and beams.

With a minimum goal of $3.4 million, the campaign will allow the church to address critical preservation work. The preservation will be done in phases; the first of which will address the safety and structural stability of the sanctuary while maintaining the church’s historic construction character.

“Mokua‘ikaua Church is a revered sacred place that is suffering the ravages of time through nearly 200 years of usage,” said Reverend David deCarvalho, senior pastor. “In order to continue to serve the needs of congregants and visitors alike, we need to come together and preserve our historic church. We’re extremely grateful for the prestigious grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, and hope the community will respond in kind as a tribute to our founders and as a legacy for the future.”


Phase One of the preservation is set to begin later this year. The preservation work will strengthen the entire structual system to reduces stresses in the original stone masonry walls; install large steel beams for stability; replace ohia posts and beams damaged by rot or termites; conserve plaster walls; replace electrical wiring; and preserve the iconic steeple designed by renowned Honolulu architect Charles W. Dickey.

Founded in 1820 by the Reverend Asa Thurston with the support of Royal Governor Kuakini, Mokua‘ikaua Church represents the cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people and the birthplace of Christianity in Hawai‘i. Its pastor, staff, volunteers and congregants are dedicated to the betterment of the larger community through a wide array of outreach programs that include social services, tangible donations, activities and events.

The Church also contributes to the economic health of Kailua-Kona. In April 2017, Partners for Sacred Places conducted an analysis to determine Mokuaikaua’s economic impact on the Kailua-Kona region. The resulting report stated that the church’s Economic Halo Effect on the community totaled more than $3.3 million.


The National Fund for Sacred Places is a collaboration that builds on Partners for Sacred Places’ decades of work helping churches use best stewardship practices with their historic facilities in order to strengthen, serve and celebrate their communities for the common good.

For more information or to make a donation to the Campaign of Spiritual Renewal, call (808) 329-0655 or go online.

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