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Carol Chang

Wahiawa Church Celebrates 80 Years With Worship, Picnic

First Baptist Church of Wahiawa will conduct a special worship service at 10:45 a.m. Aug. 24 to help mark its 80th year in the community.

Thomas McDonald, son of the church’s founder, will attend, evangelist Phil Waldrep will speak and everyone is invited.

According to the church’s historical account, it had its roots in a Sunday school that met at a park pavilion in the mid-1920s. When it outgrew that space, the laymen found and rented a house on California Avenue in 1934 and called it Wayside Baptist Chapel.

The next step was to recruit a minister, so founder Charles McDonald wrote an appeal to friends, including these very tempting perks: “We have a well-equipped chapel and Bible school building in Wahiawa,” he wrote. “We have a Chevrolet station car — seven passenger — ready for a pastor’s use.” The need was urgent, McDonald noted, as “Baptists in Hawaii are challenged by the forces of evil and sin.”

The church eventually found dedicated pastors and started a dozen missions, many to support the spiritual needs of pineapple plantation workers. Two new churches grew out of this missionary effort, and one of them is Mililani Baptist Mission, established in 1972.

The Wahiawa church now operates from 1233 California Ave. with a congregation of 460 residents, and conducts services in English, Japanese and Filipino dialects. The current pastor is Steve Gray, whose wife Dee Ann is church pianist, as well as a chorus teacher at Wahiawa Middle School.

The congregation also is celebrating its 80th year with a family picnic and an Aug. 23 luncheon for invited guests at Dot’s in Wahiawa.

For more information about the public worship service, call 622-4321.

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