One doesn’t have to be of a spiritual frame of mind to appreciate the beauty and serenity of Maui’s historic churches. These communities, some merely preserved and some thriving even today, show how Mauicame to be the melting pot of culture that it is today. From the site of the first Christian service to a Buddhist Jodo built by immigrant laborers, much of Maui’s diverse history can be seen in the spiritual buildings dating back more than a hundred years.
1. Kahakuloa Church
This church was built when the town of Kahakuloa was founded in 1887. Since then it has fallen into disrepair and is not safe to enter; however, there are attempts happening right now to revive the historic church and repair it. In the time since it was founded it has brought generations of people through the town, and there are many who are seeking to use it for worship again. If you’re looking to see something a little off the beaten path, Kahakuloa boasts a population of about 140, and the trip out to it can be a welcome break from the crush of the tourist season.
2. Keawala’i Church
First founded in 1832, the church as it stands today has been remodeled and rebuilt several times. This was required because the first version of the church was woven from grass; members of the congregation had to harvest coral to make cement and bring down lumber themselves when the building transitioned to stone and wood.
This church is iconic because it has been in continuous use since its founding. Whether you want to see history from 1890, 1960, or find the current events of today this is the church to check out. Remember that it is an active church today; mind the services. You could be glad to know that they’ve renovated the parking lot to keep up with modern times and there’s actually ample parking.
3. Waiola Church
Christianity came to Maui with Queen Keopuolani in May of 1823, with the first service being conducted on June 1st, 1823. The church that grew from that service and that incident was originally called Ebenezer Church, and then became Waine’e Church through general consensus over time. Today, it stands as Waiola Church.
The last major updates to the church happened in 1953 after high winds badly damaged the old church. Though still an active church as well, Waiola Church offers a lot of insight into its history and the history of the island gladly. There are many community events creating a welcoming environment for visitors.
4. Lahaina Jodo Mission
This Buddhist temple was the first to be constructed on the island. Many Japanese immigrants working on sugar and pineapple plantations contributed to the building of the Jodo and worked to keep it operational. When much of the original building was unfortunately destroyed in 1968, it was decided to build the proper Buddhist temple that many believed was the original vision of the mission. It was also expanded to include a Buddha sculpture set on beautiful grounds
5. Holy Ghost Mission
The Holy Ghost Mission was built in 1894, making it practically new compared to some of the other churches that Maui boasts. However, due to its unique history it still stands out. It was built by Portuguese immigrants and has a unique octagonal shape. It’s registered as a Historical Place on both the State and National registers, and holds some amazing artwork from the time of its construction.