First United Protestant Church reaches 150 years old. The church continues as a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic congregation active in community life and faithful to the values and beliefs of our Christian faith and the teachings of Jesus.
Seamanʻs Chapel and Kamehameha ‘s Charter
The story of this historic church goes back as far as 1835, when early missionaries who arrived to the big island began meeting in a stone house that was used by a family that had been converted to a Seaman’s Chapel. This chapel became the place of worship for foreigners and traders who came to Hilo. The early church was known for its hospitality and welcome to sailors who came from whaling and trading ships. The early church’s mission was to provide those sailors with moral and spiritual support. This church eventually received its charter from King Kamehameha V and was founded in 1868, known early on as the First Foreign Church. In those days, churches were organized around ethnic languages and this church was established as a congregation especially suited to English speaking residents.
Eventually our church building was located at the corner of Haili St. and Kinoole St. where the present day Sack n Save is located.
First Foreign Church
The First Foreign Church completed construction of its second church in 1868. It was built in the style of other New England Churches, and it was known as the “The Meeting House”. The third church was dedicated in 1897, it was a larger church that had a balcony, pipe organ, and stained-glass windows. Some of these items, such as components from the pipe organ and stained-glass windows are now part of the current church.
First United Protestant Church, Kosraean Church and Kamehameha Preschool
In 1954 the name of the church was changed to First United Protestant Church. In 1969, the present church was built. The current church and bell tower is built with stones that supported each of the previous buildings since the 1830’s. Pictures of each church can be found out on the lanai where fellowship is held each Sunday after worship. Today the church is home to a vibrant Kosraean Church, Kamehameha Preschool, and various groups that use the church throughout the week.
On January 14, 2018 the First United Protestant Church celebrated the opening of its 150th anniversary year with Sunday morning worship featuring an ecumenical choir, brass ensemble, and guest organist. Interim Pastor, Rev. Ron Kent, presided, FUPC organist Michael Springer, conducted. Special violin gift of music performed by Michael Russell, with Michael Springer accompanying. Special hymn arrangements by Richard Webster (AdventPress Music Co.)