A Historical Timeline

A Historical Timeline

Compiled and researched by Daisy Takeyesu and updated by Katherine Hashiro in 2020.
With research assistance from Jane Tesoro and Lloyd Nebres.

  • 1895


    Wailuku Japanese Christian Church is founded.

    The Hawaiian Board calls several Christian evangelists from Kyoto’s Doshisha Theological Seminary to Hawaii and Genzo Egami is assigned to Wailuku. Ministers who served the Wailuku Church were lay evangelists, unordained, and not licensed to officiate Sacraments. Sacrament privileges were requested from the Hawaiian Mission or Wailuku Union staff.

  • 1896

    Members purchase a plantation bungalow

    at a cost of $400 and relocate it on the corner of Market and Mill Streets. Church dues are $0.25. The church welcomes people as they are. Sitting on hard wooden benches, men are allowed to roll their own cigarettes and smoke during service. Depending on who is the minister, hymn singing may or may not be allowed.



  • 1909


    The church relocates to its second site

    still in Wailuku town, on the corner of Vineyard and Church Streets.

  • 1922

    Rev. Tamasaku Watanabe

    is called by the church congregation to be its pastor. He is the first ordained minister, a graduate of the San Francisco Theological Seminary.



  • 1935

    Kanda Girls Home is moved to another site

    on the grounds to make way for the new church building. (Shouldn’t there be an entry PRIOR to this telling about what Kanda Home was, when it was started, etc.?)

  • 1936

    Our present sanctuary and a parsonage is built

    on the Vineyard Street side of the property. The parsonage is now named Endo Hall.


  • 1942

    The Wailuku Japanese Christian Church

    changes its name to Iao Congregational Church.

  • 1946

    Rev. Mineo Katagiri

    replaces Japanese speaking services to English.


  • 1952

    Iao Congregational Church,

    Kaahumanu Congregational Church, and Wailuku Union Church vote on an idea of a merger of the the three neighboring UCC churches in downtown Wailuku to be called the “Kamalu Union Church” but it fails.

  • 1953

    The historic three-story Kanda Home building

    is demolished to make way for the current church parking lot.


  • 1959

    Sue Kaneshina is hired as the first church secretary.

  • 1961

    Watanabe Hall is constructed

    to provide more classrooms for Sunday School classes.


  • 1964

    Groundbreaking for a 4-bedroom parsonage

    on the Mission Grounds begins.

  • 1967

    Watanabe Hall is converted

    to house a nursery to provide babysitting for working mothers.


  • 1968

    The historic two-story Kanda Hall annex is demolished.

    Pu’unene Congregational Church donates a tower bell to Iao Church.

  • 1970-1978

    Iao Church enters a yoked ministry

    with Wailuku Union Church under the name Wailuku United Churches of Christ. The yoked ministry is dissolved in 1978.


  • 1972

    Old Pilgrim Hall building is demolished

    and a new replacement is dedicated in 1973.

  • 1976

    Iao Congregational Church celebrates its 81st anniversary

    in conjunction with America’s 200th birthday.


  • 1978

    The nursery school is officially named Iao Preschool

    to offer expanded quality preschool education for children.

  • 1980

    The church celebrates the 95th anniversary of the “Kanyaku Imin”,

    Japanese immigrant workers and the Japanese Christian Mission in Hawaii. Lillian Maeda is elected the first woman moderator of Iao church. Pilgrim Hall is renamed Kanda Hall during the 95th anniversary.


  • 1985

    The first Hiroshima Day observance is held at Iao Church

    Spark Matsunaga, Hawaii’s US Senator, is the keynote speaker. Iao Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Kanyaku Imin with a program produced and directed by David Harder, musical director.

  • 1986

    Rev. Kathleen Conner

    becomes the first woman to minister at Iao Congregational Church.


  • 1988

    The first Keiro-No-Hi is celebrated

    at the Inter-Continental Hotel. A Peace Pole is planted on the grounds for Hiroshima Day Observance.

  • 1989

    A program for providing meals once a month

    at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center begins. The Iao Congregational Church sign on Vineyard Street, a gift from Sei Yatsushiro in memory of his wife Hilda, is installed.


  • 1990

    Iao Preschool closes.

  • 1991

    The bell tower at the Vineyard Street entrance is installed.


  • 1992

    Fujitomo Hall is donated to Iao Church.

  • 1993

    “Joyful Noise”, a summer musical vacation Bible program

    is started by Jack Belsom. Youth from Wailuku Union and Iao Cong’l. Churches participate in the program. Kanda Home reunion is celebrated at Maui Tropical Plantation. A 15-year parsonage and grounds lease agreement is signed with Wailuku Union Church.


  • 1994

    Rev. Kalani Wong

    is installed as associate minister. Kahu Kalani’s calling is ministering to the youth of Iao. Iao Church’s Centennial cookbook goes on sale. Iao Preschool reopens.

  • 1995

    Iao Church celebrates its 100th anniversary.

    Rev. Jack Belsom composes the song “We Can Shape the Future” for the centennial celebration.


  • 2002

    Iao Congregational Church becomes an “Open and Affirming” church.

    The Kosrae Etawi becomes a part of Iao church’s ministry. Frosty POG is created and sold at the Maui County Fair, for the first time. It is an instant hit at the Fair.

  • 2003

    Iao Church’s After-School Tutoring Program begins.


  • 2010

    Iao Congregational Church changes its name

    to Iao United Church of Christ (Iao UCC).

  • 2015

    Rev. Jack Belsom

    retires at the end of July. To date he is the longest serving minister, 22 years and 9 months.


  • 2017


    Rev. Florentino “Tino” Cordova

    arrives in March 2017. He is installed on November 12, 2017. He is the first openly gay pastor of Iao UCC.

  • 2020

    Iao UCC has its first-ever "Virtual Worship"

    on March 22, via a Facebook livestream, as the Church Council decided to close the sanctuary to in-person worship due to the historic COVID-19 global pandemic.