Orthodox Church in Hawaii
Orthodox Christianity in Hawaii began with early Russian missions of the 19th century and continues with multiple Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 churches in the Hawaiian islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...



The first Christian service of any type in Hawaii was a lay funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

 service conducted by Captain James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 for an English sailor at Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay is located on the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii about south of Kailua-Kona.Settled over a thousand years ago, the surrounding area contains many archeological and historical sites such as religious temples, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places listings on...

 on the Big Island of Hawaii
Hawaii (island)
The Island of Hawaii, also called the Big Island or Hawaii Island , is a volcanic island in the North Pacific Ocean...

 in 1779.

The first Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 liturgical service held in Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 was a Russian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 celebration of Pascha (Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

). Sometime between 1750 and 1793, while traveling from the Far East to what was then Russian America, a Russian trading ship stopped over in the Hawaiian Islands. The Russian Orthodox priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

, not wanting to celebrate Pascha at sea, instructed the captain to disembark. The captain told the priest he feared the "natives" but the priest responded, "They will not harm us, for we are Orthodox, and we bear the Light of Christ to illumine their hearts." They disembarked and blessed a temporary altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...

 under a newly built temple made out of palms and bamboo and adorned with a Our Lady of the Sign
Our Lady of the Sign
The Icon of Our Lady of the Sign is the term for a particular type of icon of the Theotokos , facing the viewer directly, depicted either full length or half, with her hands raised in the orans position, and with the image of the Child Jesus depicted within a round aureole upon her breast.The icon...

An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 of the Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 (Mother of God) and the Christ Child. It was rumored that as they departed the priest left the icon used in the Paschal Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

. The ship's priest promised that, "We shall return and baptize these natives to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."

First chapels

In 1815, Russians built Hawaii's first Orthodox church: the Russian Orthodox chapel at Fort Elizabeth
Russian Fort Elizabeth
Russian Fort Elizabeth is a fort on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. It was the last remaining Russian fort on the Hawaiian islands, built in the early 19th century by the Russian-American Company as the result of an alliance with High Chief Kaumualii to gain influence in Hawaii...

, coordinates 21°57′6"N 159°39′51"W. On the island of Kauai
Kauai or Kauai, known as Tauai in the ancient Kaua'i dialect, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of , it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle",...

, three Russian forts were built: Fort Alexander, Fort Barclay, and Fort Elizabeth. Fort Alexander also housed a small Orthodox chapel, but Fort Elizabeth was the trading base for the new Russian-American Company
Russian-American Company
The Russian-American Company was a state-sponsored chartered company formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage)...

 in Hawaii. When King Kaumualii
Kaumualii was the last independent Alii Aimoku of Kauai and Niihau before becoming a vassal of Kamehameha I of the unified Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810...

 of Kauai ceded his kingdom to King Kamehameha I
Kamehameha I
Kamehameha I , also known as Kamehameha the Great, conquered the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. By developing alliances with the major Pacific colonial powers, Kamehameha preserved Hawaii's independence under his rule...

 in 1816 following the Tsar Alexander I's
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 refusal to annex Kauai due to political troubles in Russia, the forts were also ceded, and the Hawaiian Islands become one unified kingdom. The chapels ultimately fell into disrepair after Calvinist missionaries
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was the first American Christian foreign mission agency. It was proposed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College and officially chartered in 1812. In 1961 it merged with other societies to form the United Church Board for World...

 from the United States landed in 1820.

In 1882, the Kingdom of Hawaii
Kingdom of Hawaii
The Kingdom of Hawaii was established during the years 1795 to 1810 with the subjugation of the smaller independent chiefdoms of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lānai, Kauai and Niihau by the chiefdom of Hawaii into one unified government...

 sent a diplomatic delegation to St. Petersburg, Russia, to witness the coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 of Tsar Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

. The reports of Hawaii's special envoy to the Russian court, Colonel Curtis Iaukea
Curtis Iaukea
Curtis Piʻehu Iaukea served as the chief diplomat of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi during the reigns of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. His great grandson is wrestler King Curtis Iaukea.-Life:...

, Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Hawaii, regarding the Russian Orthodox liturgical
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 services were widely published in Hawaiian language
Hawaiian language
The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaii, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the state of Hawaii...

 newspapers. Two years later, Tsar Alexander III sent King Kalākaua
Kalākaua, born David Laamea Kamanakapuu Mahinulani Nalaiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua and sometimes called The Merrie Monarch , was the last reigning king of the Kingdom of Hawaii...

 the Imperial Order
Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
The Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire.-History:The introduction of the Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was planned by Emperor Peter I of Russia...

 of St. Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

, the highest Russian award, and established a permanent Russian embassy in Hawaii, along with a very small Orthodox chapel. Subsequently, 200 Ukrainians were imported as laborers by American sugar planters.


In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was deposed
Deposition (politics)
Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch. It may be done by coup, impeachment, invasion or forced abdication...

 by U.S. Marines and American sugar plantation owners who were mostly the children of American Calvinist missionaries, and a provisional government was installed (see Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii). In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States of America. In the early 1900s, the Russian ambassador was recalled, the embassy was moved to a small office, and the Russian Orthodox chapel was closed.

Saint Innocent of Alaska
Innocent of Alaska
Saint Innocent of Alaska , also known as Saint Innocent of Moscow was a Russian Orthodox priest, bishop, archbishop and Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia. He is known for his missionary work, scholarship and leadership in Alaska and the Russian Far East during the 19th century...

 also made a brief stop-over in Hawaii during his travels from Asia to Western America.


On November 27, 1910 (O.S., the Feast Day of the Znamenny-Kursk Root Icon of the Sign of the Mother of God), reader services were organized and served by Vasily Pasderin.

In 1915, after the Russian Orthodox community in Hawaii (and the Episcopal Bishop Henry B. Restarick) sent an official request by to the Holy Governing Synod in St. Petersburg, a priest was dispatched (with the blessing of Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky) of the Aleutians) to pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

 the large population of Orthodox Russian faithful. He establishsed permanent liturgical services in Hawaii and on Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 December 25 (O.S.) / January 7 (N.S.), 1916, Protopresbyter Jacob Korchinsky celebrated the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 at Saint Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral
Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu
The Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, also commonly known as St. Andrew's Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church in the United States located in the State of Hawaii...

 in Honolulu. Thus Orthodoxy was re-established in Hawaii.

Fr. Jacob, a well-known missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 priest, established churches in Canada, the United States, Alaska, Australia and the Philippines. He was murdered in Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

 shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, but has not yet been officially recognized as a martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

ed saint (though, for martyrs, no official canonization
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

 is necessary in the Orthodox Church).

St. Tikhon of Moscow
Tikhon of Moscow
Saint Tikhon of Moscow , born Vasily Ivanovich Bellavin , was the 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church during the early years of the Soviet Union, 1917 through 1925.-Early life:...

 once quoted Fr. Jacob's missionary exploits this way, "He did much to convert the heathen to the Christian Faith and returned many Uniates to the Orthodox Church. He set the foundation for parish life in many places, built churches and assisted the unfortunate with his acquied medical knowledge."

In subsequent years, the Russian Orthodox Church shipped or flew priests to Hawaii to care for the dwindling Orthodox population, becoming part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 (ROCOR). Archimandrite
The title Archimandrite , primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise...

 Innokenty Dronov of Hilo, a contemporary of St. Jonah of Manchuria
Jonah of Manchuria
Jonah , Bishop of Hankou , was a diocesan bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia who served in Northern China in the years immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution....

 and St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
John of Shanghai and San Francisco
Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco also John the Wonderworker was a noted Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia who was active in the mid-20th century...

 and Metropolitan Meletius of Harbin, served the entire Orthodox Christian flock on all the Hawaiian Islands throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Fr. Innokenty had a large following of Japanese Orthodox
Japanese Orthodox Church
The Japanese Orthodox Church or The Orthodox Church in Japan is an autonomous church of Eastern Orthodoxy under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church.-History:...

 Christians. He frequently returned to the Diocese in San Francisco to report to Archbishops Apollinary (Koshevoy) and Tikhon (Troitsky) and for medical reasons. He is now purportedly buried on the Big Island of Hawaii.

"Melting Pot"

Until the 1960s, the Russian Orthodox Church was the only Orthodox jurisdiction in the islands. Following the 1960s, parishes from three other jurisdictions established themselves in the Islands: Greek
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is Archbishop Demetrios of America.-About the Archdiocese:...

, Serbian, and OCA
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

. At one point there were as many as five different Orthodox jurisdictions in the Hawaiian Islands. Despite this multiplicity of jurisdictions, all Orthodox churches in Hawaii are in communion with one another and have friendly relations. (See also: Orthodoxy in America, Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...


Russian Orthodox Church

In the late 1960s, a group of Russian Orthodox Christians parted ways with the local Greek community and joined the Russian Orthodox Church under the omophorion
In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical tradition, the omophor is the distinguishing vestment of a bishop and the symbol of his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority...

(jurisdiction) of Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles; they formed the St. Mark of Ephesus
Mark of Ephesus
Mark of Ephesus , a 15th century Archbishop of Ephesus, is famous for his defense of Eastern Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence in spite of Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus and Pope Eugene IV...

 Russian Orthodox Mission. In the early 1980s, this mission parish was later re-consecrated under the heavenly protection of the Mother of God and is now known as the Holy Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 of Iveron Russian Orthodox Church. In the late 1990s, the pastor of the Russian Orthodox community, Father Anatole Lyovin, was ordained
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 to serve the Orthodox faithful in Hawaii. Currently this parish is without a permanent structure, but there are plans to build the first Russian Orthodox church in Honolulu.

Greek Orthodox Church

In the mid 1960s, a Greek Orthodox community established a mission under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York City, is an eparchy of the Church of Constantinople. Its current primate is Archbishop Demetrios of America.-About the Archdiocese:...

. This community became known as the Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. The current acting pastor of the Greek Orthodox community in Hawaii is Fr. John Kuehnle, who was assigned to the parish in Honolulu in 2008. This community is well-known for its annual Greek Festival held at Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park is a free public park on the island of Oahu, U.S. state of Hawaii, located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. This park has a wide gold-sand beach that is over a half-mile long. It's man-made and was created by the owner of the Dillingham Dredging Company, who was...

 near Waikiki
Waikiki is a neighborhood of Honolulu, in the City and County of Honolulu, on the south shore of the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach is the shoreline fronting Waikīkī....

. This community is under the care of Bishop-Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (GOARCH).

In the 1990s a Greek Orthodox mission was established on the Island of Maui
The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at and is the 17th largest island in the United States. Maui is part of the state of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, bigger than Lānai, Kahoolawe, and Molokai. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444,...

. For a time, this mission was served by clergy of Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Honolulu. They had a resident priest for a year, but this mission has been inactive for a number of years.

Serbian Orthodox Church

In the early 1990s, a Serbian community established a Serbian Orthodox
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

 mission dedicated to St. Lazar
Lazar of Serbia
Lazar Hrebeljanović , was a medieval nobleman that emerged as the most powerful Serbian ruler after the death of the previous, childless, Emperor Uroš the Weak, which resulted in years of instability in the Serbian realm. As Stefan Lazar, he was Prince of Serbia from 1371 to 1389, ruling what is...

 of Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

. The Serbian mission later became inactive, and its remaining members joined the local Russian and Greek churches. There has been a recent interest within the Serbian Orthodox community in Hawaii to re-establish this mission. In recent months, visiting clergy (including the Serbian Bishop Maxim of Western America) have come from the mainland to minister to them.

Antiochian Orthodox Church

In 2003, the short-lived St. Paul the Apostle Antiochian Orthodox
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is the sole jurisdiction of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada with exclusive jurisdiction over the Antiochian Orthodox faithful in those countries, though these faithful were originally cared for by the...

 Mission was established in Honolulu at Fort Shafter
Fort Shafter
Fort Shafter is in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu, Hawai‘i, extending up the interfluve between Kalihi and Moanalua valleys, as well as onto the coastal plain at Māpunapuna. Fort Shafter is the headquarters of the United States Army Pacific Command, the MACOM of U.S. Army forces in...

 Army Base. The rector of this mission was Fr. Isaiah Gillette, a chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

 with the military. Following Fr. Isaiah's transfer to Texas, the mission was disbanded. There is currently a small community under the care of a priest from the Antiochian Orthodox Church, who visits Oahu on a regular basis.

Orthodox Church of America

In early 2004, a new Orthodox community under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

 (OCA) was established in Kona
Kona District, Hawaii
Kona is the name of a moku or district on the Big Island of Hawaii in the State of Hawaii. In the current system of administration of Hawaii County, the moku of Kona is divided into North Kona District and South Kona District . The term "Kona" is sometimes used to refer to its largest town,...

. Fr. Sergius Naumann served this community for a time until leaving for Alaska. They were without a priest for about 18 months. In Autumn, 2007 the community was given the name of St. Juvenaly — the first Orthodox Church to have St. Juvenaly as their patron. The mission is under the auspices of Bp. Benjamin (Peterson) of the West (OCA).



Hawaii island

  • St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission - serving the Big Island and based in Kona - official website

External links


  • Archimandrite Avgustin (Nikitin); Gavraiskie ostrova i Rossiia (Obzor tserkovnykh sviazei i kontaktov - (Saint-Petersburg; Minneapolis 2002)
  • Michael Protopopov; A History of the Russian Orthodox Presence in Australia (Submitted Thesis)
  • Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 23, 1916
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.