In 1833, the Seamen’s Bethel was established near the Honolulu waterfront, with a Chaplain to minister to the spiritual needs of transient sailors who came to Hawaii on whaling and trading ships. Worship services in English attracted English-speaking townspeople, as the Hawaiian language was spoken in the Missionary churches. By 1837, church was formally organized as Oahu Bethel. In 1852 the name was changed to Bethel Union; and a Second Foreign Church was established, formally known as Fort Street.
A raging waterfront fire in 1886 destroyed the Bethel Union Church. The Bethel Union congregation, decided to join forces with the welcoming Fort Street Church. On November 13, 1887, a formal merger created Central Union Church.
In 1892, a fine stone church was built at the corner of Beretania and Richards Streets, across the street from Queen Lili’uokalani’s residence Washington Place. Noise and ventilation problems led the Church to move to its present location at Beretania and Punahou Streets. In 1924, the Sanctuary was completed, reflecting the traditional New England style. It soon became known as the Church in the Garden for the spacious beauty and serenity of its grounds and buildings.
In 1920, Central Unions then-pastor Dr. Albert Palmer chose a desirable 8.3-acre site at Punahou and Beretania streets. e site was “Woodlawn,” for years the residence and dairy farm of prominent businessman B.F Dillingham and his family. Mrs. (Emma Louise) Dillingham, by then a widow; agreed to sell: she had been a member of the church since Bethel Union days. In 1922, the cornerstone was laid, and the present sanctuary. designed in traditional New England style, was completed in 1924. If you are an avid history buff or enthusiastic archivist, who would love to get involved in helping us preserve our rich history please visit this link.