David Akana’s roots on the North Shore go deep. His family has been part of Kauai more than a century.
Key to the Akana connection is Christ Memorial Episcopal Church. Many of his relatives are buried behind the stone church in Kilauea. He recalls, as a boy, running around inside and out, playing at the church and mowing the lawn.
“We’ve been kind of taking care of this church for three, four generations,” Akana said.
And, of course, he attended services.
“If you weren’t working, you had to be at church,” he said, smiling. “There was no getting out of it. We used to laugh because one side of the church used to be my whole family.”
Akana was in the pew again Sunday morning, along with about 100 other people, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the consecration of the landmark plantation field stone church.
The service led by the Rev. Robin Taylor, vicar, and the Rt. Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick, bishop, featured a special time of thanksgiving and worship, hula and music. Later, in the parish hall across the street, members and visitors enjoyed a brunch, conversation and time of reflection.
Jack Gushiken, Kilauea historian, farmer and world-famed fisherman, offered a historical look at the area and the role of the church.
The celebration was a time to “recall our past, and consider our place in the Kilauea community and the North Shore of Kauai. We will focus on our intention to learn from history, celebrate our success and move forward with hope and trust in God.”
Fitzpatrick, in a 10-minute sermon, said, “We’re really here to dig and look ahead.”
“When I visit churches, I see people who are there because I remember who sat in the pews before. I am with people who are here but not this year,” he said. “That’s part of what it means to be a church.”
People are not perfect, he said, including those sitting before him on Sunday. Many have talked stink about others, were likely rude even when they didn’t mean to be, and were angry times when they should not have been.
But that shouldn’t prevent people from caring for and helping each other through loneliness and hurt, in times of health and times of illness.
“So in this celebration today, I hope you’ll celebrate all those people who aren’t physically here, but who are all around us right now,” Fitzpatrick said. “Singing with us, with us in life. I hope this day you remember all of those people you’ve known throughout your faith journey, who sometimes were a little grumpy but who you know are beloved of God.
“And I hope as we finish this day, you will know that you are loved by God, that you are good, that you are whole and you are beautiful and the eyes of God, nothing can take that way,” he said. “And in this world, you can share that goodness and beauty.”
Taylor said the 75th anniversary celebration was “a wonderful marker for us. It shows us where we’ve been and how we’re called to continue to follow Jesus and reach out to serve our community around us.”
Christ Memorial Episcopal Church has a Saturday food pantry to help the needy, a popular thrift shop to fund outreach efforts, and gathers to pray. It is comprised of loving, accepting people, who believe in God and serve all of God’ people, near and far, Taylor said.
“I’m really honored to be part of this group,” Taylor said.
Akana said in his younger days, Kauai was a “totally different world than what you’re looking at right now.”
Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, though, has long been a rock-solid part of his faith.
“This was an awesome service today,” he said.