Just south of Makena Bay landing is one of the island’s earliest churches, Keawala’i Congregational Church. Its name means “peaceful harbor” or “tranquil haven.” The small pebbly cove in front of the church is formed by two points of lava. The points shelter the cove’s inner waters during the most adverse ocean conditions. The north point of the cove is actually a small rock islet with three kiawe trees growing on it. To the east of the cove is Maluaka Beach.
The first Keawalai church was a pili grass structure erected in 1832. In 1855 parishioners gathered wood as well as stone and coral for lime from the nearby reefs and built a small, but more substantial church that lasted until today. The stone walls of the church are three feet thick.
In the churchyard there is an old graveyard, the resting place for members of the old Makena families. A number of the tombstones have cameo photographs.
When the steamers stopped coming to Makena the population declined. For a variety of reasons, the church lost its worshippers and was virtually abandoned. However, it has come back and is as strong and active today as it ever was.
In 1856, the Sunday school raised $70 which was sent to the United States to buy a bell for the church. The bell arrived in January 1860 and was lifted to the belfry in February 1862.
The land where the church now stands was purchased in 1864 for $80 – from Mahoe who donated $45 to the church. Donating $5 each to make up the balance of $35 were: Keli‘ia‘a, Kahanuala, Halama, Kealoha, Kapohakimohewa, Kenui, and the pastor, Kahu Manase.
The rest of the history can be located at: www.keawalai.org/history.html
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