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Waipahu United Church of Christ marks 50th anniversary

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:24 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

The Waipahu United Church of Christ was formed 50 years ago through the merger of the predominantly Filipino Waipahu Evangelical Church and the Waipahu Community Church, whose membership was mostly Japanese.

"Today our ohana is quite different from 1961. We have embraced Hawaiians, Samoans, Caucasians, Marshallese and other Pacific Islander Asian-Americans," said Senior Minister Norma Nomua DeSaegher.

The church, at 94-330 Mokuola St., celebrated the 50th anniversary of its birth Sunday, culminated by the release of several dozen doves from its bell tower.

Its first sanctuary was built between 1948 to 1950, originally for the Waipahu Community Church, with the Rev. Hiro Higuchi spearheading the drive.

Higuchi had been a chaplain during World War II, and a dozen men from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team came to help, under lead volunteer Tokuo Yoshida, DeSaegher said.

The merged church was formed on May 28, 1961. In 1977 Higuchi and Yoshida, who had become a general contractor, returned to build the current sanctuary, again with members of the 442nd, DeSaegher said. The original building was renovated and turned into a community center last year.

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