St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii

1949 - 1987

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, 1949.

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, Albuquerque, NM.

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.

Return to St. Matthew's Home page

Copyright © 1997, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii, All rights reserved.