An enduring sense
of Community
Pearl City Community Church events
attract volunteers from all over,
some not even Christian
By Mary Adamski
When Pearl City Community Church puts on its April luau, it's not just members who show up to do the work of wrestling pigs into the imu, chopping ingredients for lomilomi salmon and cooking gallons of chicken long rice and squid luau.
Former Pearl City beat policemen, construction laborers and retired school cafeteria workers, residents of the other side of Oahu, people who aren't even Christian, consider it their tradition. Dozens of them worked to put on the 50th annual luau April 23, which fed about 3,500 people.
A similar wide circle of friends is expected at the church's 50th-anniversary party next Saturday. It'll be at the Okinawa Cultural Center in Waipahu, where someone else will do the cooking.
"Community" has been the church's character since its beginnings at the site on Lehua Street a block makai of Kamehameha Highway.
More than 50 former members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were volunteers on the construction crew in the early 1950s, recruited by their former Army chaplain, the Rev. Hiro Higuchi, founding pastor of the church.
"When Rev. Higuchi blew the whistle, the boys came out," said Michiko Iguchi, 84, whose family lived next door and took on the mission of feeding those volunteers. "That was my job. We'd put a big roast in the oven the night before.
"They did everything," she said, from carpentry on the wide, high-pitched roof to the moss rock sides that are the building's most outstanding feature. "Seitoku Oshiro would come after work and jump on the bulldozer. Jun Enomoto (of the 100th Infantry Battalion) would come out from town," she said recalling the camaraderie of the nisei crew. Oshiro and Enomoto became church members and will be at the festivities next week.
It's 50 years since the building was dedicated and the church was admitted to the United Church of Christ, linked to Central Union Church, Kawaiaha'o Church and others in the denomination brought here by the first Christian missionaries.
But the Pearl City Christian community dates back much further. "It has its roots in a Hawaiian church that was located on the Pearl Harbor peninsula," said Audrey Kawaa, who researched the history for an anniversary booklet and video. "It was called Ka Hui Hoike Ka Haku O Jesu Kriste, but it was more commonly known as Waterhouse Chapel." She said the wooden chapel was moved to the present site in the 1920s, rolled on barrels and logs from several yards away.
"Before we were a church, we were a community Sunday School," Iguchi said. In the post-World War II days, the population in the area was small, and the core of church members called on Higuchi to help the church grow. There were few activities for children and youth in the rural area where Pearl City town was clustered near Kamehameha Highway, and the highlands were planted in sugar cane. Church members brought youngsters from YMCA programs and around the area to the chapel to teach the Bible and join sports and fun programs.
Many were second-generation Japanese Americans like Iguchi, who became a Christian as a youngster. "My parents weren't Christian, but my father said, 'This is a Christian land.'" Her parents, Monnosuki and Miya Iguchi, remained Buddhists. But they pledged money for construction of the church, and before he died, her father told his children to complete that commitment. And with the Iguchi home just steps from the church sanctuary, it was Hawaiian hymns that her mother sang while doing the laundry.
The Rev. Eric Ebisu, pastor since 1988, said old-timers in the congregation still give uncountable volunteer hours to the church. One current community project is a respite program for young parents. A cadre of kupunas play with, read to and feed preschoolers on Wednesday mornings in a free program intended to give parents free time for a little while. The state Department of Health refers families to the church program and it is open to any family, Ebisu said.
The building fund was long since paid off, and it is the congregation's practice nowadays to share what they make on the luau or take in collection baskets with other, needier churches.
The festivities next Saturday will include performances by women in the church's sacred-dance troupe and men doing signing (for the deaf) to the music of the adult and children's choirs.
On Sundays, Ebisu peaches from a low, carved koa pulpit that dates back to the original Hawaiian church. Beside him are the electric guitars and keyboard featured in the weekly contemporary service and the monthly "Youth Jam." There's also a weekly traditional worship service.
The youth music might not inspire Iguchi to sing along as did her mother, but she and other senior members applaud the idea that, as it was 50 years ago, Pearl City Community Church is focused on young members.
"We need to focus on the young and to be sure they know they have a legacy from the past here," Kawaa said. "Hopefully, they will sustain the church into the future."

第442連隊戦闘団(だい442れんたいせんとうだん、: 442nd Regimental Combat Team)は、第二次世界大戦中のアメリカ陸軍が有した連隊規模の部隊である。士官などを除くほとんどの隊員が日系アメリカ人により構成されていた。ヨーロッパ戦線に投入され、枢軸国相手に勇戦敢闘した。その激闘ぶりはのべ死傷率314%(のべ死傷者数9,486人)という数字が示している。アメリカ合衆国史上もっとも多くの勲章を受けた部隊としても知られる[2]

442連隊が強制収容所の被収容者を含む日系アメリカ人のみによって構成され、ヨーロッパ戦線で大戦時のアメリカ陸軍部隊として最高の殊勲を上げたことに対して、1946年にトルーマン大統領は、「諸君は敵のみならず偏見とも戦い勝利した。(You fought not only the enemy, you fought prejudice-and you won.)」と讃えている[10]
2004年8月に、第100歩兵大隊は第29独立歩兵旅団(ハワイ州兵)の大隊機動部隊の一つとして、イラクにおける任務のために活動を再開した。部隊はハワイのスコーフィールド・バラックス(Schofield Barracks)にて動員され、テキサス州のフォート・ブリスで2004年に訓練を受けた。その後、ルイジアナ州フォート・ポークで練成度を確認され、2005年3月よりイラクで任務に就いている。これは2006年に帰還している。



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