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Kailua-Kona church aims to raise $3M for repairs

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:26 a.m. HST, Jun 25, 2014

KAILUA-KONA >> Leaders of the state's oldest church have outlined plans for $3 million in repairs to ensure the building endures as a landmark.

Mokuaikaua Church in Kailua-Kona was founded by the Pioneer Company of American Missionaries in 1820.

The building's roof must be raised, its walls reinforced with steel and its interior and exterior cracks filled, West Hawaii Today reported. Rot- and termite-damaged crossbeams must be replaced. An earthquake in 2006 caused some of the problems.

The church announced a new fundraising campaign Tuesday, shortly after the National Trust for Historic Preservation declared it one of the most 11 most endangered sites in the country.

The endangered designation shines light on how critical the situation is and provides a starting off point for seeking grants and other funds, lead pastor David de Carvalho said. "The idea is to have a church here for the next generation," he said.

The symbolism of Mokuaikaua Church extends far beyond its visual impact, church members said.

"It is very much a part of the roots and foundation of the whole story of Christianity in Hawaii," said Roxanne Olson, who has attended services since third grade.

Mokuaikaua was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The National Trust for Historic Preservation said the church needs immediate attention if it is to be saved.

"This is an icon for the community. This is a piece of history of this state," de Carvalho said. "We don't need to be on that list. We want to be off that list."

Church leaders hope to undertake restoration in two phases, with a third phase being an expansion of a separate building used for offices and Bible study.

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