Nuuanu Baptist Church was begun by three of the foreign missionaries who had been
displaced from China during World War II. As the church grew, our first missionary pastor,
Malcolm Stuart, drove around the neighborhood searching for the right property to purchase
with Foreign Mission Board Funds. He found it at the corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Bates
Street. War time restrictions prevented building, so a large tent was erected. Vacation Bible
School was held immediately, with the help of Olivet Baptist Church. Our first three pastors,
Dr. Stuart, H.B. Ramsour, and J.H. Ware, were all under appointment of the Foreign Mission
Board. And all of our first educational workers were missionaries, including Miss Olive Allen,
who canvassed the neighborhood, encouraging families to send their children to our pre-
In those early days, there were many military personnel attending, who provided adult
guidance and financial support to what was basically a ministry to children and teenagers.
One Sunday, twenty sailors came forward and gave $100 each to start the building fund that
led to the construction of our sanctuary, dedicated in 1946. In 1961, we called our first non-
missionary pastor, James Harley, followed by Delmer Allen, Joe Sanders, Rick Lazor, Jerry
Corbely, and Bob Gierhart. Many of the young people from those early days, like Carmen Tom
and Charles Nakamura, remained and became key leaders.
In 1949, a $20,000 gift from the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was added to the Building
Fund to allow an attachment to house the Fellowship Hall and Sunday school classes.
That December, Nuuanu purchased the lot next door and built the two story education
building that bears the name of Pastor James H. Ware. It provided a space, too, for the
Japanese language division, led for many years by Pastor Fujita and later George Watanabe.
The lot’s original house served as a nursery, then a parsonage, and finally a youth house
before it had to be torn down.
After HBA purchased the Sacred Hearts Covent School across from the church, Nuuanu used it
for extra Sunday school space and parking and made a generous monthly contribution to the
school. This past year, our Long Range Planning Committee oversaw the remodeling of the
restrooms, church office, kitchen, and fellowship hall.
In 1977, James Wong brought his family from Hong Kong to work in Hawaii. Pastor Joe
Sanders urged the church to hire Pastor Wong to begin a Chinese division, the first Baptist one
in Hawaii. This work grew under Pastor Wong’s leadership, and subsequent pastors Paul Li,
Jones Lo, and Andrew Tongg. The Chinese Division constituted its own church in 2004 and
soon after purchased and renovated its own property on King Street.
In 1997, Nuuanu members Joel and Eileen Yuen’s work with children at Kapiolani Hospital led
to a ministry with Chuukees immigrants and the formation of a congregation that met at
Nuuanu. During those years, we often had joint worship services in English, Japanese, Chinese
Nuuanu was a church planter before that term became popular. We birthed Kalihi Baptist,
Pearl City, Pali View, and Halawa Heights Baptist Church. We are the grandmother of Kailua,
Kahaluu, North Windward, and Mountain View. And we are the great grandmother of First
Baptist Waimanalo. With Pearl City Baptist, we co-sponsored two churches on the Big Island
and two churches in Western and American Samoa.
Missions and missions education has thrived at Nuuanu since its very beginning. RA’s, GA’s,
Acteens, Children in Action, and Children’s Bible Drill taught our children how to pray for, give
to, and go on mission. Our WMU was among the four original groups that formed the first
state council in 1952. We have sent mission teams to South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut,
Mexico, Thailand, Lanai, the Big Island, Nebraska, Los Angeles, Arkansas, the Gulf Coast, the
Middle East, China and Japan. Our church was one of the first to join the work of the Good
News Mission at OCCC and continues to provide space for families of prisoners to video-chat.
After River of Life opened, Nuuanu provided quarterly meals for its guests and continues to
support it financially.
When Pastor Bob answered our call to serve, we saw mostly gray hair in our congregation. We
prayed for an infusion of youth and children. God answered that prayer with the calling of
Pastors Chris Morales and Johnny Hom and the many young adults and families that now have
become our leaders and our future.
God’s hand has always been on Nuuanu and its ministries. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses
reminded the Israelites of all the ways God had provided for them during their 40 years of
wilderness wanderings. It is good that we stop and recall all the ways He had provided for us
in our 80 years of ministry.