Our Heritage

Missionary Shiro Sokabe arrived from Japan on March 26, 1894 to serve as a Congregationalist missionary to the Japanese immigrant laborers living in the remote plantation town of Honomu on the east side of Hawai`i Island.

With only local charity and some support from the sugar company, Sokabe opened an orphanage and school, providing  meals, housing, and an education to all children from the community.

He eventually accepted the title of Reverend, and conducted services each week at what was then known as the "Honomu Christian Church." Reverend Sokabe also preached at chapels in the neighboring communities of Hakalau and Pepeekeo where many Japanese and Filipino Christians lived.

The ministry of Honomu Christian Church developed under Reverend Sokabe and subsequent pastors expanded to serve many diverse ethnic groups living on the Hamakua Coast. Over the years, Hakalau Chapel, Papaikou Filipino Church, Pepeekeo Chapel, Pilgrim Church, and the Honomu Christian Church merged to become the Hilo Coast United Church of Christ.

Welcoming New Members

Rev. Sokabe (center, in robe) with some of his students