Iao United Church of Christ

“We are a people of God, living and sharing the love of Christ—and reflecting that love in WORDS and ACTIONS.”

Rev. Floren“Tino” C. Cordova
Pastor, Iao UCC
[ Sermons ]

Sunday Virtual Worship
9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
[ Livestream ]

Church Address
2371 W. Vineyard St.
Wailuku, Maui, HI 96793
[ MAP ]

(808) 244-7353—Church Phone
(808) 740-8358—Pastor's Phone

Church E-mail
Pastor's E-mail

Iao Preschool
(808) 242-1995

Social Media

A Historical Timeline | Compiled and researched by Katherine Hashiro

With research assistance from Jane Tesoro and page design by 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. (More text here about this particular church site. Surely something can be said about it blablablabla. What it was made of, who constructed it, how were funds raised for it, etc. etc. Photo is obviously a placeholder.)
1922 The church congregation calls the Rev. Tamasaku Watanabe to be its pastor. He is the first ordained minister, a graduate of the San Francisco Theological Seminary. (More of the story here [from Gail Okawa] including his being an internee in the camps; of which see this a photo.)
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.
1970-78 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 On March 22, Iao UCC has its first-ever "Virtual Worship" service online, 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.

[ 6.19.20: work on this page is in progress... ]

Iao UCC is a member of the United Church of Christ (USA)

©2020 Iao United Church of Christ