Hana Hou New England Tour History Background

Introduction to Sites to be visited on the Hana Hou New England Tour October 20-October 26, 2019 during the Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial 2019-2020

Quick Links Plymouth – Newburyport – New Haven – Torringford – Andover – Bradford – Hollis – Goshen – Cornwall – Boston


Banners announcing the Bicentennial of the pioneer mission to Hawai‘i now hang on the walls of the Park Street Church in Boston. Park Street is Boston’s premier connection to Hawai‘i is the Park Street Church on the Boston Commons. The Park Street Hawai‘i Bicentennial committee has organized a full calendar of activities to greet us.

Here the pioneer Mission to Hawai‘i, the Sandwich Islands Mission, was formed as a missionary church. Here the pioneer company were commissioned, given their orders and sent out. Here Thomas Hopu spoke in the Hawaiian language to several pews of native Hawaiians who gathered in Boston to send out the pioneer company. A native Hawaiian attended the Tremont Temple Baptist church located across the Boston Green from Park Street.

Park Street Church opened in 1809 as an evangelical lighthouse in Boston at a time when most of the Puritan Congregational churches had changed their theology to that of the Unitarian and Deist, a form of Christianity that denies the divinity of Christ and the Trinitarian God of the Bible. Their beliefs included universal salvation (Unitarian) and that God was a creative force, but one that was remote and inactive in the workings of the world.

During the War of 1812 gunpowder stored in the cellar of the church gave it the tag Brimstone Corner.

In the early 1950s evangelist Billy Graham spoke at Park Street and revival broke out. These services made Billy’s name prominent on the East Coast. His evangelism campaign culminated in a gathering at nearby Boston Commons that drew 50,000 people to the park.

Today Park Street Church’s number-one mission is to send out foreign missionaries. Being in a big college town their congregation is very international in makeup. 

Park Street is still a Congregational church, with the spirit of Boston’s forefathers still alive at their church. Park Street is a member of the Conservative Congregational denomination, not the United Church of Christ.

Kahu Ken Makuakane, pastor of Kawaiaha‘o Church in Honolulu, Hawai‘i’s Westminister Abbey, will lead the two morning services on Sunday, October 20, with his English sermons spoken by a translator during the service. This will be the first know time that the Hawaiian language has been spoken at Park Street from the pulpit since the departure service of 1819 we are celebrating on October 20.

On Wednesday morning October 23 Hawaiian Mission Houses Board of Trustees President Peter Young will speak about the departure of the pioneer mission party. Then Peter will lead us on a one-mile walk to the Long Wharf at Boston Harbor. Look for a commemorative plaque that describes the departure of the mission company.

Today the Long Wharf is where tour boats and commuter ferries depart from to cross Boston Harbor. The pioneer company were rowed out aboard a U.S. Navy barge (the vessel used to transport sailors to and from shore) to the brig Thaddeus awaiting offshore for the sail to the Pacific Ocean and Hawai‘i. Mission leaders Asa Thurston and Hiram Bingham sang the hymn Head of the Church Triumphant, as they did at their Goshen ordination. Thomas Hopu gave a short address in the Hawaiian language. Families, friends and spectators lined the spacious wharf to say aloha to the mission party. All knew they may never see the missionaries and children who were departing on a six-month voyage around treacherous Cape Horn.

Additional Hawai‘i connections are located a short walk from Park Street. The Cornhill printing and publishing district buildings once formed a U near the Old State House. At Cornhill was printed the missions and revival news publication the Missionary Herald. Readers across the United States, Britain, Europe and beyond read almost monthly reports sent back from Hawai‘i to Boston by the missionaries in Hawai‘i.

The Congregational Library is located on Beacon Street, up the hill from Park Street. This building once housed the headquarters of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The ABCFM sent, funded, administered and provided oversight for their Sandwich Islands Mission, and for American missionaries stationed at foreign mission stations across the world.


Across the Charles River lies Charlestown, a neighborhood of Boston. From the Long Wharf you can catch ride on an inexpensive public ferry to the Charlestown Navy Yard. The Navy Yard is home to the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides. In 1816 George Prince Kaumuali‘i (Humehume), the prince of Kaua‘i, found himself stranded at the Pursers Building at the Navy Yard. The building is still there and lies perpendicular to Old Ironsides. The Rev. Jedidiah Morse, pastor of the Charlestown Congregational Church, found Humehume, brought him to his parsonage where Jedidiah and his wife provided accommodations, meals and new clothing prior to sending Humehume to North Guilford, Connecticut to await the formation of the Foreign Mission School in Litchfield County.

Jedidiah wrote the geography books used in American schools after the Revolutionary War. His raised his son Samuel F. B. Morse in Charlestown. Samuel worked as a portrait painter prior to inventing the telegraph. In Boston Samuel sketched Thomas Hopu, Humehume, Kanui and Honoli‘i just prior to their departure aboard the Thaddeus.