Despite challenges, Kahana Door of Faith Church going strong
KAHANA — The doors were once locked and the pews, songbooks, pulpit and cross were removed, but the light is still shining on Kahana Door of Faith Church.
Its doors will open for a Christmas Eve service at 10:30 p.m.
The plight of the “little church that could” began when the Door of Faith Churches and Bible School Inc. out of Honolulu listed the property for sale for $2.5 million this past September.
The congregation was stunned. There was no mortgage, and the parish operated independently from other ministries in the State of Hawaii.
“The land was given about 63 years ago; that was in the mid-1940s. It was recorded in 1947. That land was given by my great-great-uncle, George A’i Smith,” explained parish spokesperson Michele Pupunu.
“They had listed Kahana Door of Faith Church for sale for no apparent reason,” Pupunu continued. “A board member came from Honolulu to dead bolt every door at the Kahana Door of Faith Church during Sunday service.
“The community responded that Sunday and came to the church to show their support and love and gathered with members and parishioners that day.” There were at least 100 community supporters.
“The authorities made a clear statement to that board member and stated that they had no right to do a lock down, and she needed a court order to do so,” she added.
Unfortunately, the land is still on the market.
Two pews are left, Pupunu said, and “they took the cross off the wall that was a gift, a handmade gift, from my tutu, Emma Apuna Kamaka Ralar. She was the church founding pastor. That would be, my aunt says, 67 years ago.”
The church, however, is not powerless, and its message is eternally positive.
“There has been a collaboration throughout the Door of Faith Churches in Hawaii that is in the process of challenging the board and the bylaws, so that is already ongoing,” Pupunu commented.
“As far as Kahana Door of Faith Church, we just want to keep continuing with what we all perceive as truly a blessing of receiving this parcel (at 4975 Lower Honoapiilani Road). We’ve done this for 63 years of worshiping in Kahana as a family and as a community. We love our little church,” the devotee added.
In fact, the congregation has been blessed since the turmoil arose.
“Through all of this, our family has become closer — Emma’s family. As we become closer, we have opened the eyes and the ears of the community,” the former church acting secretary described.
“It’s really put some awareness out there in our little community in Kahana that the landscape can change at any time, and that this family — who has been doing church here for 63-plus years — just wants to continue on serving the Lord. We want to just keep going and doing God’s work. This doesn’t hinder us in any way, and it has just made us stronger,” she added.
In fact, the membership has grown, and the offering has expanded.
“Church is home for us. We have family coming home. We have newcomers (30). We have the snowbirds. It just brings us so much delight,” Pupunu commented.
“We still have our weekly services on Sunday, and our Deaconess, Aunty Mary (Fukagawa), has been the interim pastor. She’s been taking up the leadership role for now.”
“We now have a Sunday school teacher, and we have three different choirs,” Pupunu added.
The performers in the Hawaiian Himeni Choir are Aunty Ruth Belden, Aunty Crystal Alboro, Aunty Kehau Sumudio and Shenette Kalua.
“We also have the Akima family — Tommy and Noe and their beautiful children — who have a music ministry at our church. We have a new worship group, which is a couples group, that has a music ministry as well,” Pupunu remarked.
Pupunu was passionate when she said, “We just wanna serve and love the Lord and just keep pressing on. We don’t wanna live defeated. Spreading our good news and good hope — this is a great testimony for our little church.
“The message I know will be clear. People who have read our story (in the Lahaina News) or haven’t run into one of our family members, they’re gonna read this and say, ‘Oh my gosh, that church is still going.’ It is still going… we never give up.”
The Christmas Eve program will be special this year. The three choirs will perform.
“We didn’t think we would see this celebration, because of all that we have been through,” Pupunu said.
“It’s been since September,” she concluded. “Our doors are still open. This little lighthouse is still on out here in Kahana. We’re just excited to welcome the birth of our Savior, and we look forward to going into a good new year,” she said.
In the true Christmas spirit, Pupunu rejoiced, “We invite anyone who wants to come.”