The church's history dates back to July 24, 1832, when the Reverend John S. Emerson was sent as the first missionary to the Waialua community. He and his wife, Ursula, had only arrived in Hawai'i on Thursday, May 17, 1832 aboard the Averick in Honolulu Harbor. They were with the fifth company of missionaries sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).
The Emersons were assigned to the Waialua Station -a new station on the northwest side of O'ahu. Waialua stretched along the coast for 30 miles with a population of 8,000. They sailed from Honolulu on a small native schooner and were welcomed by the High Chief Gideon Peleoholani La'anui, the ruling chief of Waialua and grandnephew of Kamehameha I. He presented them with watermelon which helped to relieve their seasickness.
The first hale pili (house thatched with pili grass) for a church was dedicated on September 25, 1832 at what is today the corner of Kamehameha Highway and Hale'iwa Road, site of Hale'iwa Joe's. The organized church began with 16 members chosen from among the over 2,000 native Hawaiians who attended the dedication. Masses of people stood outside, unable to enter as others were already crammed inside. At that first service Lota Kuokoa who was the konohiki served as deacon.
Emerson served the Church until 1842 when, due to ill health, accepted a teaching position at Lahainaluna on Maui. He later returned to Waialua and served the congregation until 1846.
The government selected a spot for a second church to replace the first one. An adobe building, 99 by 49 feet was erected in 1840-1841 on what is now the cemetery. A new bell which costed $144.00 (with the largest contribution of $40.00 by High Chief La'anui) replaced the blowing of the pu (conch shell) to announce the start of Church services. After the bell arrived in Honolulu Harbor stalwart Hawaiian men carried it on their shoulders and on foot they brought it to Waialua. The bell is still is use today.
The third church was built of wood in 1890 on the present location and it was this building that Queen Lili'uokalani worshipped in when she stayed at her beach home along the banks of the Anahulu River. The Queen was very generous to the church, giving chandeliers, hymnals and her famous seven-dial clock which is still in use today.
The fourth church building was built after the wooden one was declared unsafe. In 1960 a new church project was started. This new building by architect Theodore A. Vierra, AIA, was dedicated on June 11, 1961.
Later renovations of the existing sanctuary were completed in 1985. A new copper roof was installed and the ONIPAA plaque at the entrance commemorates this renovation.
The weather vane is in the form of an Iwa bird (frigate or man-of-war) in full flight in all its glory with a fish in its mouth. The hills surrounding this area is where the Iwa nests. Hale'iwa was the name of the seminary that the Emersons established in the area and the village was eventually named Hale'iwa (house of the Iwa bird). Iwa is also the name of a slender leafed fern and there are 2 of these leaves at base of the vane. The religious connotation is brought together with the fish in its mouth. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea gathered many kinds..."
The stained glass windows by Erica Karawina reminds us that Christian faith inspire our purpose of life to love God more by serving our fellow humanity. The "I AM's" -the VINE, the LIVING WATER, the CROWN OF LIFE, the ALPHA & OMEGA were dedicated on September 9, 1973. And on March 24, 1974 another service was held to bless the other stained glass windows.
Pastors of the church: Rev. John S. Emerson, 1832-1842, Rev. Asa Bowen Smith, 1842-1845, Rev. John S. Emerson, 1845-1864, Rev. Moses Kuaea, 1864-1867, Rev. John Nahili Paikuli, 1868-1876, Mr. J.S. Pogue (supply), 1877, Rev. Enoch C. Timoteo, 1880-1897, Rev. Solomon Kolani Oili, 1897-1903, Rev. Levi David Keli'ipi'o, 1904-1911, Rev. Stephen W. Kekuewa, 1913-1916, Rev. Solomon Kolani Oili, 1918-1920, Rev. Henry Kuniaupuni Poepoe, 1920-1921, Rev. John Ka'ana'ana Kauwalu, 1921-1926, Rev. John Pinney Erdman, 1927-1928, Charles Manaiki Keahinui, 1928-1938, Rev. Pa'alua Davison Kellet, 1938-1940, Jerome K. Holmes & Rev. F.B. Withington (agents of the Hawaiian Board), 1936-1939, Rev. Samuel Makana'ole Saffery, Sr., 1940-1971, Visiting ministers, 1971-1974, Rev. Hiro Higuchi, 1974-1975, Rev. C. Richard DuFresne, 1975-1977, Rev. L. Thomas Crosby, 1977-1978, Rev. Richard F. Dickinson, 1978-1982, Rev. Samuel Makana'ole Saffery, Jr., 1982-2004, Rev. David Kaupu (interim), 2004-2005, Rev. Kekapa Lee (temporary), 2005. Supply ministers then Rev. James Kimo Merseberg, Rennie Mau and presently, July, 2010, Kahu Neal MacPherson (interim).