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Founded in 1907 in Hawaii
A Historical Summary

Our Humble Beginnings, 1907
Olive Church started in September 1907. It was the first Christian church established in the town of Wahiawa, originally found by Korean immigrants who came to Hawaii to seek a better life as plantation workers. It was first believed that Olive Church began in 19010, which is the official recorded date in the Methodist Journal. However, our church records revealed that September 1907 is the original charted date:

“Wahiawa Korean Methodist, Episcopal Church was founded in 1907 September with 45 members. First worship service was held in English classroom. First church meeting was held 1908, March 19.”

Historical records show that people gathered for worship services even earlier than our official founding data. Olive Church appeared to be one of the many first Korean Mission House located in the plantation villages scattered around the islands. There were approximately 45-50 Korean Methodist Mission House in Hawaii. In one particular historical account, the Late Reverend Ye Chai Kim, who served at Olive in the years, is mentioned:

“Kim, Chan Jay was brought to Hawaii on the Gaelic by his brother, Ye Chai Kim, a minister, to get an education. They arrived on January 13, 1903. Kim, Ye Chai preached the gospel on board ship. The first shipload of immigrants were all Christians. . . The first boatload of Koreans, which arrived on 13 Jan 1903, was sent to the Waialua Plantation.” (The Korean Frontier in America, Wayne Patterson, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1988)

According to one of our original immigrant members, the Late Mrs. Bok S. Yue, the first service was held at the “Bae Young Eui School,” a Korean school where Korean children came to study and learn both Korean and English. The church was then located on Cane Street. In the ensuing years, our church members also held prayer meeting in one of the classrooms of the Wahiawa Elementary School, which was originally situated on Lehua Street and converted to a hospital during WW II.

Olive Avenue Period, 1917-1931

One march 30, 1917, our church acquired a plot of land on Olive Avenue. The land was given to the Late Reverend Choon Ho Lim, the minister at the time, by Mr. & Mrs. Percy M. Pond. Mrs. Esther Ome, Reverend Lim’s daughter, wrote in his biography:

“Mr. Percy Pond, a prominent businessman and wealthy real estate developer who was moved by the sad plight and sufferings of the Lim family gave a large and valuable tract of land in the business district of Wahiawa to Pastor and Mrs. Lim. Pastor and Mrs. Lim accepted the offer, but instead gave the property to he Methodist Mission. The Mission in turn divided the large portion to help build the Wahiawa Korean Methodist Episcopal Church.”

Worship service were held in the parsonage until a church was constructed in 1930. Both buildings were demolished in 1992 to make way for the construction of a new apartment complex by its new owner. The church steeple bell was dismantled and relocated to our present location on California Avenue where it now serves as a memorial to our early beginnings.

War Time & Postwar Years, 1941-1960

Our longest serving minister, the Late Reverend Chang Ho Ahn was with Olive for 18 years. After his departure in 1945, several pastors were assigned on a part time basis, primarily to take the pulpit on Sunday mornings. It was a difficult period of time for Olive during WW II and the post war years. Church membership and functions were greatly affected by many of the war time and postwar conditions.

Inclusive Ministry, 1962

In April 1962, church members voted to change the name of our church from Wahiawa Korean Methodist Church to Olive Methodist Church, and to extend its ministry to all other ethnic races in the community. Our congregation was then comprised of only a few remaining elderly Korean speaking members and the younger generation, who preferred English. Worship services in English were offered with a resultant growth in church membership. The lack of space and the need for additional church facilities made it necessary to replace the buildings. It was then decided to build a large church at another site. A new church site at the corner of California Avenue and Anoni Street (our present location), consisting of 49,900 square feet of land, and a new parsonage (17 Kilani Avenue), were acquired in 19062 with the approval and assistance from the Division of National Missions of the United Methodist Church.

Construction of A New Church Building, 1963-1964

In 1963, a Building Crusade was organized by the church members under the leadership of the Late Reverend Sung Whai Kim, with Theodore Park and Harry Yuh serving as co-chairmen. The Reverend William A. Perry, from the Division of National Missions, PA, formally opened the crusade on June 7, 1963. The crusade was very successful in obtaining pledges far surpassing the membership goal. The funds derived from the sale of the old site was also designated for the construction of new building. The building plans were developed by Mr. Roy Tanji, a Wahiawa architect, associated with Frank S. Robert, AKA, and T. Takahishi LTD was constructed to build the new church. On September 13, 1964, our new church was finally ready for occupancy.

Trilingual Congregation, 1969

Our Samoan ministry was formed in 1969 and a part time Samoan Language Minister, the Reverend Faaangi Taufetee, was appointed to serve Olive Church.

Children's Center & Preschool, 1970

The dire need for a children’s center and preschool in the Wahiawa community prompted the establishment of a Children’s Center and Preschool, as an adjunct to the church in 1907. Several years later, a building addition was constructed adjacent to the kitchen to provide additional office and storage space for the center. It has successfully served our community since 1970. In 1991, the management of the Center was transferred to Rainbow School following the retirement of Mrs. Reiko Kimura, the former Director.

First Recipient of Inclusive Church of the Year Award, 1979

In 1979, under the pastoral leadership of Reverend David Kim, Olive Church was recognized as “The First Inclusive Church of the Year,” by the Commission of Religion and Race, then the Pacific Southwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Today, we are a unique trilingual church conducting three separate worship services (English, Korean and Samoan), and combined joint service held once each quarter. Our English speaking congregation is a typical Hawaiian “salad bowl” of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group (Caucasians, African Americans, Koreans, Japanese, Samoans, Filipinos, Chinese, Hawaiians and Multi-races). After a decline in the early 1960s, our Korean speaking congregation has steadily grown, largely due to the inflow of new Korean immigrants brought about by changes in the Immigration Laws in 1969, and interracial marriages of Korean women to military personnel stationed in the nearby community.

New Education Building, 2002-2004

Under the strong leadership of Reverend Younghee Chung, the church grew to be in need of spaces for the education of children and youth. The church established the Education Building Committee and nominated Changseo Ku as chairperson. The chairperson and all church members came up with a 600,000 building project in 2002 and successfully achieved it in 2004. The dedication service was held at 4:00 p.m. on April, 2003 with Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and Bishop Haejong Kim.

2004 Journey to the Next Century

All of our original early Korean immigrants are no longer with us. Today, this beautiful church stands as a tribute and symbol of faith and dedicated service, embracing a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic community sharing the same Christian beliefs and values. Our present total combined membership is 298 (according to the membership report of 2004)

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