New book on Kalaupapa’s first church, Siloama Church

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa News Release

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, a nonprofit organization dedicated to remembering everyone who was sent to Kalaupapa, has published “Adjourned With a Prayer,” a book based on the minutes kept by the congregations of Siloama and Kanaana Hou Churches from 1866 to 1928

“Adjourned With a Prayer” is the title of the recently published book on the Siloama/Kanaana Hou churches. Cover photo courtesy Hawaii State Archives.

Siloama Church, a member of the United Church of Christ, was the first church organized and built at Kalawao, the original settlement on the Kalaupapa peninsula where people with leprosy were sent beginning on Jan. 6, 1866. Barely six months after the first people arrived, 35 men and women came together to form the Siloama congregation. It is believed that some of these founding members were kama`aina, joining with those who had been taken from their families and their church congregations on their home islands to be sent to Kalaupapa.

The church was built in 1871. A branch of Siloama was established on the Kalaupapa side of the peninsula in 1878. This branch later became Kanaana Hou Church, which was built in 1915.

The book has already become a valuable resource in helping families learn more about their ancestors at Kalaupapa. Molokai resident Timmy Leong was moved to tears when he found the name of one of his ancestors in the book.

“It was a surprise to find my kupuna, Kahooilimoku, in `Adjourned With a Prayer,’ ” said Leong. “I had often wondered what his life was like in Kalaupapa in the late 1800’s. Finding this book was like finding a time capsule. It felt like an old dusty window had been opened offering a fresh glimpse into the past.

“I could picture him in a meeting discussing church related business; accommodating a new minister, finding housing for a family, providing compensation for a janitor and trying to settle a dispute … All of these agenda items would not be out of place at a church meeting today.”

The first Church Secretary was J.D. Kahauliko, who was among the first group of people sent to Kalaupapa and is the first person whose name is listed in the Kalaupapa Admissions Register. Kahauliko and the 15 secretaries who followed him are listed as the book’s authors.

The minutes were kept in Hawaiian and recorded in a ledger that became lost sometime after the last entry in 1928. Ten years later, when cleaning the Siloama Church yard for a wedding, the Reverend Alice Kahokuoluna discovered a vault beneath the building and saw a corner of the book. The minutes were still easily legible and were translated into English by the Reverend Henry P. Judd in the mid-1940s. Judd also copied down the names of hundreds of members of Siloama and Kanaana Hou.

For reasons that are unknown, there is a large gap of the minutes between 1894 and 1927.

‘Ohana historian Anwei Law edited the minutes and wrote additional text with quotes from current or recent Kalaupapa residents. Carol L. Silva provided additional translation. The books were published in association with the United Church of Christ and the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society Library with grants from the G.N. Wilcox Trust and the United Church of Christ. Proceeds support the ‘Ohana’s ongoing programs of advocating for the Kalaupapa community, helping families learn more about their ancestors and working in partnership for the preservation of the history.

The book costs $20 each with $6 shipping charges for books ordered through the mail – one or two books can be shipped for the $6 charge (for slower delivery that takes up to six weeks, shipping costs of $3 should be added). Books may be purchased by sending a check to the Hawaii Conference United Church of Christ, 1848 Nu`uanu Avenue, Honolulu 96817. To pick up a book on Oahu without the shipping costs, call ahead to the church offices at 537-9516.

More information on how to purchase the book and the activities of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa can be found at the group’s website. For more information contact Valerie Monson, ‘Ohana Coordinator, at 808-573-2746.


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