KEA’AU, HAWAII (May 8, 2012) – The Puna Covenant Church celebrated its centennial anniversary and multi-cultural history on April 21.
Among the speakers was the oldest living member, 101-year-old Naosuke Sugai, who has attended the church since he was born. His parents helped start the church. In 2009, he was the first person to turn over dirt when the youth center was constructed.
Sugai shared how the churched had impacted so many lives and was at the forefront of introducing Christianity to the community in east Hawaii.
In April 1912, Olaa Japanese Christian Church was established under the leadership of Takeshi Ban. Five years later, the Olaa Filipino Evangelical Church was established under the leadership of pastor Simeon Ygloria.
The two churches were in close proximity. Merger talks started in 1960 as each of the churches grew smaller. They joined together in 1965 as the United Church of Christ.
The church, which now has an average Sunday attendance of more than 200, joined the Evangelical Covenant Church in 2006.
The recent event was held at the church. The formal program included talks by former pastor Bob Thompson; Wayne Carlson, associate superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference; Frances Hiraoka, the daughter Takeshi Ban; and a member of the Filipino congregation.