St. Matthew's Episcopal Church was started
in 1949 through the efforts of St. Christopher's, Kailua. The
nucleus was a small group of Waimanalo parents who took their
children to St. Christopher's each Sunday for church school classes.
A Sunday school in Waimanalo was organized
in April, 1949, meeting at the Waimanalo School Annex until more
suitable quarters could be obtained. Subsequently, the chapel
at Bellow's Field, Waimanalo, became available and the first regular
church service was held at that location on Sunday, November 20,
As of December 1, 1949, St. Matthew's was recognized
as an organized mission and the Reverend Richard Trelease, St.
Christopher's, was appointed vicar pro tem. Rev. Trelease is
now the Rt. Reverend Richard Trelease, Bishop of the Rio Grande,
On August 1, 1950, the Reverend William R.
Grosh became vicar and he and his wife moved into a rented vicarage
in Waimanalo. Services continued to be held in Bellow's Field.
In 1951 Rev. Grosh also became vicar of St. Johns-by-the-Sea,
Kahaluu, and moved into a vicarage on St. John's property. For
more than two years thereafter he served the two congregations
and commuted to Waimanalo from Kahaluu on Sundays and on other
days when meetings or services were held in Waimanalo.
In April, 1953 a house and lot on Kalanianaole
Highway, Waimanalo, were purchased for $13,000 by the Missionary
District of Honolulu to be used as the St. Matthew's vicarage.
This property is still part of the church complex.
The Reverend Harry Finkenstaedt was appointed
vicar on January 13, 1954, and was the first to lie in the new
vicarage. The Bellow's Field chapel was still being used for
services. After five months at St. Matthew's Rev. Finkenstaedt
was transferred to Okinawa. Lay readers and supply clergy filled
in at St. Matthew's until a regular minister was available.
On August 10, 1954 the Reverend Mellick Belshaw
was appointed vicar and with his wife became the second occupant
of the vicarage.
In the summer of 1955 an extension of the vicarage
was completed through a gift of $3,000 from Bishop Harry S. Kennedy.
Also during that summer the land on which the vicarage stood
was cleared by the Territory of Hawaii for church use, since under
the Hawaiian Organic Act the area was originally restricted to
residential use. To receive a land patent making it possible
to use the land for church purposes, a bill was introduced in
Congress, passed by both Houses, and signed by President Eisenhower
on July 20, 1955. After much work by the congregation, the extension
to the vicarage was converted to a chapel seating about 80 adults.
The first celebration of Holy Communion was offered on August
20, 1955. On Sunday, November 6, 1955, the new chapel was dedicated
by Bishop Kennedy, who was also the celebrant and preacher. One
hundred and ten men, women and children were present.
The church school used every available space
for classes, including the vicarage lanai and dining room table.
One class was held outdoors. Because of the limited space, a
Butler building was constructed in back of the vicarage in 1956
(?). This is the present parish hall. In 1986 another building
for Sunday school and general use was completed.
Since the late 1950's St. Matthew's has been
served by a series of ministers, including the Reverends Sheldon
Hale Bishop, Lamar Spires, Norman Ault, Guy Brown, and Fritz Minuth,
the latter having retired in May, 1987. The Reverend Alison Dingley
is now vicar.
The present main building of the church, which
fronts on Ehukai Street, was built in 1967 and dedicated by Bishop
Kennedy on January 21, 1968. The former chapel on Kalanianaole
Highway has since become known as the Bunny Factory, as Hawaiian
coconut Easter baskets are made there each year as a fund-raising
project of the Women of St. Matthew's, a project started in 1950.
For many years the church premises have been
shared with various community organizations for social, recreational
and educational purposes. The parish hall is now used extensively
as an infant care facility and a food bank is maintained on the
property. A luau, open to the public, has been sponsored by the
congregation annually since 1985.
The ohia cross that hangs over the altar in
the church was made and installed by men of the congregation under
the direction of the Revered Charles Hopkins, who obtained the
log from friends in Kamuela, Hawaii. The cross is dedicated to
the memory of Robert Andrade, the late husband of Anna Andrade.
The koa altar was donated by Archie and Mary
Lou Dunn in memory of their young son, Archie III. The altar
was originally installed in the chapel on Kalanianaole Highway
and moved when the new church was completed. The retable, back
of the altar, is a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Walter McCleery.
The baptismal font just inside the front entrance
to the church and the bell on the tower on the front lawn were
given by the Reverend Belshaw, who is now the Rt. Reverend Mellick
Belshaw, Bishop of New Jersey.
The stained glass windows were dedicated in
1984 to the memory of Annie (Mrs. Paul) Brede.