Brett and I have driven by this small, beautiful stone church several times on trips up to Kilauea, or at least seen it off to the right as we get ready to turn left to head for home. The other day though, after a doctor’s appointment, we had some time on our hands and the weather was lovely, so Brett and I decided to turn right and see what we could find out about this old and historic church.
Episcopalian worship services were held beginning in 1888 in Kilauea under Bishop Willis who had been sent to Hawai’i by the Church of England. The idea for a permanent church came about in 1924, on the site of a frame church where the church had been meeting but that was owned by the Hawaiian Congregational Church. In 1939 the Kilauea Sugar Company deeded the churchyard to the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii and donated the native stone used to build the current church. The chief benefactor, however, was Mrs. Robert Shepard, of Griffin, Georgia, in memory of her husband. The church was consecrated in 1941.
The cemetery around the church dates back to the earliest days of the original Hawaiian Congregational Church, with several graves more than 100 years old. There are also many unmarked graves on the grounds, and the number of people buried here will stay a secret “known only to God.” Many of the gravestones include not only dates, but information about how the person died, and their position in the family. The most recent burial we could find was in 2013, in a family plot beside the church.
The Christ Memorial Episcopal Church is one of the most picturesque historical churches on Kaua’i and in the Hawaiian Islands. It is especially noted for its beautiful stained glass windows. The windows were originally made in England, but reworked in 1968 to insure a longer life.
The church is open to visitors from 2-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There’s also a wonderful thrift store operated by the church across the street. The church is closed to visitors on Mondays and Sundays, although we stopped by on a Monday and there were people there who let us come in. It truly was a beautiful place to stop for a while, and absorb a little history of the island.