Our History
United Church of Christ - Judd Street 100th Anniversary
Honolulu Chinese New Year Chinatown Parade

The fires of 1886 and 1900 did little to change Honolulu’s Chinatown. Thousands of Chinese were crowded into tenement houses and slums. Alleys were filled with garbage, opium dens flourished, and tuberculosis added to the already existing poor health conditions.

Into these alleys, two women missionaries, Jesse Mackenzie and Mabel Sunter would set up in a convenient spot and commence singing hymns. When enough of a crowd gathered, they told their meager audience about the “old story” of the cross.

Mrs. Mackenzie walked fearlessly through these streets, knocking on doors and visiting Chinese women confined by custom and societal restraints to their crowded apartments. She shared with them the story of Christ and a new way of life. She invited them to the Beretania Mission for classes and social events.

This determined missionary would also visit Chinatown laundries, grocery stores, poi shops, and other businesses to witness to the Chinese men. She left them with religious pictures and Biblical tracts.

Her efforts eventually led to the establishment of the “Second Chinese Congregational Church” on September 15, 1915. Her Beretania Mission was home to a flourishing Sunday school, an English night school, and dozens of boys and girls clubs.

Contributions from many patrons, businesses, and even an elderly Chinese woman who walked six miles to contribute $10 of her savings she had earned as a washerwoman, led to the building of the Second Chinese Congregational Church on Maunakea and Beretania Streets in 1918.

The Beretania Church became a vital gathering place for a broad range of youth activities. Services were conducted in both English and Chinese. Weekly prayer meetings, home visitations, and fellowship events became a mainstay. The church was the sole beacon of light in an area that had succumbed to urban blight.

In the post war era, the neighborhood around the church became increasingly unsafe with increased prostitution, gambling, and crime. Plans were made to move the church to the McInerny Estate on Judd and Bachelot Streets in Nuuanu.

The first gathering site was an existing mansion on the grounds, which was eventually named the Mackenzie Memorial Hall. With its move to the new location, the church also changed its name to the United Church of Christ and was incorporated on October 14, 1948.

Fundraising for a new sanctuary was initiated in 1950. After years of fundraising activities, bazaars, and fairs, replete with ferris wheels and pony rides, the new 467 N. Judd Street Church was built and dedicated on June 19, 1955.

[ Excerpts from: Diane Mei Lin Mark, Seasons of Light, The History of Chinese Christian Churches in Hawaii, 1989.]

The gospel seed which Jesse Mackenzie planted in the dark din alleys of Chinatown in the early 1900’s has grown into a vibrant tree on Judd Street, 95 years later.

With the helping hands of Mrs. Mackenzie and the hard work of many members and pastors, this seed has grown into a “family of Christian believers, a witness to the love of God as exemplified in the life of Christ.”

Today, UCC-Judd continues to grow into the next century “through strengthening faith in worship and study, by the bonding of all in Christian fellowship and in serving the needs of others.”