KAHANA - In humble appreciation, the congregation of the Kahana Door of Faith Church has invited the community to join them in fellowship on Sunday, Oct. 23.
The service begins at 9 a.m., followed by a pa'ina (Hawaiian meal).
"We are inviting the public to come and worship with us, and they are welcome to stay for the pa'ina. We're gonna have the basics - kalua pig, lomi salmon, poi and chicken long rice," parishioner Ruth Belden said.
"It's a service of gratitude that we can still worship in our church after over a year of uncertainty. September 11, 2010, is when the representatives of the Board (of the Door of Faith Churches and Bible School out of Honolulu) came to Maui and changed the locks after they stripped everything from the church," Belden explained.
Church members have said it was a matter of greed; the Oahu church executives had listed the valuable, splendid, ocean view property at 1370 Lower Honoapiilani Road for sale for $2.5 million.
There was only one glitch, according to Belden: "The burden of proof that they own the property lies with them; they have never been able to prove they own the land."
"The land was given about 63 years ago, that was in the mid-'40s. It was recorded in 1947. That land was given by my great-great uncle, George A'i Smith," explained parishioner Michele Pupunu.
"It was given for the purpose of the church," Belden confirmed.
Belden is the granddaughter of Emma Apuna Kamaka Ralar, the congregation's first minister.
"She built that church from the ground up," Belden added with passion.
What saved the land from corporate gluttony was a cry for solidarity.
The small white house of worship has served basically one large Hawaiian extended family, Belden said.
Glen Kamaka of Napili is the grandson of the founder of Kahana Door of Faith.
Although a believer, he wasn't always a Sunday church goer.
He recalled the reason for his return: "Most of all, I got drawn back to the church because of a call from the family. When the family put the call out for the need of help, the family pulled together as one.
"You need to go back and take care of your kuleana, which is our Kahana Door of Faith Church. It had become our kuleana, because we are the generation that needs to make sure that that church continues to flourish and touch other people's lives."
Indeed, the congregation has blossomed this past year.
"Our Sunday school classes have grown. Our membership has increased. We have visitors that come whenever they are in town and make it a point to come to our church," Belden remarked.
There's also a new minister, Belden expanded with pride.
Kahu David Kapaku "is the new part of who we are," she added. "He came to support us last November and has never left. He loves us, we love him; it's a wonderful, joyous experience."
Kahu Kapaku was humble about his contributions.
"Honestly, my position at Kahana Door of Faith is to love the people. When ministers love their people, the church can do anything," he said.
The congregation's spiritual transformation has been profound.
"Many are finding a deeper relationship with God through prayer, Bible study and fellowship. People are not afraid to believe that God can do all things. The congregation is courageous and confident about its future," Kahu Kapaku said.
Belden was fervent in her testimony about the lesson learned.
"We shouldn't take our spiritual relationship for granted," she said.
"As much as we thought that this would always be our family church, we as a family were threatened by outsiders. It never crossed our minds that we would not ever have this church.
"We still believe," she affirmed, "that we will continue to have this church for the generations to come, but now we are cautious. Our faith in God and what we do as a family, we're a lot closer," Belden said. "It made us be a lot closer to each other as a family, the immediate family and then as a family of God."
Worship on Sundays begins at 9 a.m.
The kahu described the regular Sunday observance: "Lots of special music. Got an ukulele, play it. Got a song, sing it. Got a testimony, share it. Got an offering, give it. Got a petition, pray it. Got a sermon, preach it. Got a lava lava, wear it. Got a burden, free it."
This weekend, services will be followed by the pa'ina.
The invite, Belden said, "is basically come eat with us and share whatever you grateful for. We welcome everyone."