In 1927, Dr. William Fry, the Superintendent of Hawaii Mission, selected Rev. C. P. Goto, who had been a language teacher on Maui, to be the pioneer Christian worker among the Japanese people on the whole Windward side from Waimanalo to Kahuku, whose ministry lasted 27 faithful years. On November 19, 1927, the Kaneohe Methodist Church came into being officially with ten adults and nine children.
In 1929, the first building was built on Kam Highway with the gift of $9,000 from three nieces of Rev. Henry H. Parker, a Congregational Minister, son of early missionaries to Windward Oahu. Thus, the name Parker Memorial Methodist Church was given to this new church. Rev. Parker served as a pastor of Kawaiahao for fifty-four years, and was also a counselor of many Hawaiian kings and chiefs, including Kamehameha IV, Lunalilo, Kalakaua, Liliuokalani, and President Dole.More about Rev. Parker
During the war years (WWII), the parish hall was a center for Red Cross and civilian defense activities, as well as a headquarters for gas and food rationing. Church members also continued serving lunches to servicemen as they gathered together to worship on Sunday mornings such as New Years Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Parker United Methodist Church
Celebrating 95 years (1928 - 2023)
Our original church site, on which the Hawaii Mission had been renting the parsonage building, was located at the present-day Times Shopping Center on Kamehameha Hwy. The land owned by the Rev. Henry H. Parker was given to him by King Kamehameha IV in 1859. The parsonage building had been Rev. Parker’s home.
Rev. Henry Parker died just 3 weeks before Rev. C.P. Goto and his family arrived in Kaneohe in 1927. Not long after, Rev. Fry, the Hawaii Superintendent of the Methodist Mission was told that the Parker estate was being subdivided and sold and there were already many interested buyers. Rev. Fry and the Hawaii Mission Treasurer had to make a quick decision to purchase the land by borrowing money from the Bank of Hawaii until the money came through from the Headquarters of Board of Missions in Philadelphia.
The deed for the purchased land was registered on Nov. 15, 1928 and marked the beginning of Parker United Methodist Church. Three days later Rev. Fry attended a service at the parsonage where he and Rev. Goto baptized 19 people and received 10 members into the Kaneohe Methodist Episcopal Church after the death of The Rev. Henry H. Parker.
Rev. Fry immediately began looking for funds locally to build a sanctuary. The church decided that it was only fitting to have the building erected as a memorial to the Rev. Henry Parker, who had lived on the site at various times throughout his life and had been a Christian minister in the islands for 55 years. By October 1929, the sanctuary had been built with contributions from the Board of Missions, the nieces of Rev. Henry Parker, Aubrey Robinson, the Atherton Estate, the Cooke Family, Emma Wilcox, James McCandless and the members of the church. It celebrated its first service, debt-free.
Through his faith and dedication, Rev. Goto introduced the issei local Japanese families to the Christian faith. It is said that he used the 3 B’s – the Bible, bicycle (used as his transportation), baseball (his passion that he used to draw in the youth of the community).
From those early years as a predominantly Japanese speaking congregation on Kamehameha Hwy., we have transitioned to a new location on Waikalua Road and from at one time having 3 different language services (Japanese, English and Samoa) to now just having an English service. We, however, have not lost the diversity in our members and often incorporate Japanese, Samoan, Hawaiian and Tongan into different aspects of the worship service such as music, and doxology. Our diversity can also be noted by the different types of food brought to our potlucks, which is a Parker tradition. We have also agreed to being a Reconciling Church, which means that we believe in working to advance justice and inclusion of all LBGTQ+ people in the United Methodist Church.
When the Methodist Church became known as the United Methodist Church, it was decided to shorten the name of our church to Parker United Methodist Church. Our name change, however, has not changed what we do. From the time of the first congregants who constantly welcomed the entire community to use their Social Hall for community events and social programs and always somehow stretched their giving to sponsor missions and aid to the community, we have carried on the tradition of helping the community by participating in programs such as Family Promise, donating food and clothing to various programs and continue to sponsor missions overseas.
As our history reflects, Parker is and will always be a Church for All! Our membership and worship is a reflection of our diversity as we will often sing and pray in Japanese, Samoan, Hawaiian and Tongan. In 2022, the congregation voted in favor of being a Reconciling Church, which means that we believe in working to advance justice and inclusion of all LBGTQ+ people. We also have a passion for service whether we are participating in programs such as Family Promise, donating food and clothing to various programs, and continuing to sponsor missions overseas.