Updated from the original compilation of 2003 by Sharon Dumas, February 2020. Proofreaders: Carol White, Melissa Richardson
Top left to bottom right: Old sanctuary, Dedication of new sanctuary, Bob Bradford and family, Courtyard group, Positive Christian Singles
Contributors: Ana Jean Altman, Lee Axtell, Robert C. and Betty Bradford, Rosemary Burchell, Cathy Chang, Ian Chapman, Sana Daliva, Oscar Droste, Sharon Dumas, Frances Faria, Val Godley, Linda Groth, Bob Hamilton (via Cindy Lance), Fred and Tressa HIckernell, Jane Kouchi, Crystal Lancaster, James Ledbetter, Rodney Lum, Joyce Morse, Nancy Newfeld, Jim and Louise Nikkel, Dianne O’Steen, Bill and Carol Paul, Mike and Ponnie Reynolds, Dean Schmerbauch, Marilyn Kerr Solter, Bill and Cathye Tipton, Waxer (David) Tipton, Jerry and Peggy Traeger, Shelly Morse Turner, Al and Lavon Van Selow, David Vaughn Brad Wilcoxen, Howard and Corine Wong, Rodney Wong.
Ana Jean Altman: I was an active member there while living in Hawaii, 1986-88. Pastor Al Van Selow and Lavon were very special in my life, because I was dating Richard McGill for a long time, and he said, “When are you two going to get married? I asked, “Do you think we should?”, and he said “Yes”, so we made an appointment to meet with him early the next week and were married days later. We left Hawaii in 1988 but while there, our lives revolved around the church. We worked at workdays, and I went to Bob Hamilton’s Bible studies and Sunday School classes. We never missed Sunday morning church and also were back for the evening service. I remember the Wards, the Pauls, Joyce Morse, Rodney Lum, the NIkkels, the Wises, Buddy and Robin Mac, the Jerry Johnsons, Sharon Dumas, and Charlene and Terry Fial. I see her whenever I return to the islands, which now is only every 5 years for my Punahou reunions. I will come and visit when I am there next June, Lord willing. FBC will always have a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, Richard left God and then left me in 2003, so I moved to Ensenada, Mexico, to be with my daughter and her husband, who are missionaries there, and my two granddaughters, AnaJean Altman, who is now known as Anajean Lusk, and Anajean McGill.
Lee Axtell: Do you remember when Pastor Barry interviewed Navy Chaplain Lee Axtell when the Axtells were stationed here for the first time? Pastor Barry did the interview in the church service for Veterans’ Day in 2006. Lee was a chaplain with the Marines in Kane’ohe Bay and he wore his Marine Corps uniform for the church service.
Robert & Betty Bradford: Our family arrived in Honolulu in 1955. We found a termite-riddled sanctuary and no educational facilities. There were less than thirty members at FBC of Honolulu after a very serious split in the church. Dad Fickett could see the potential of the church. I recall four local families: The Hamiltons, The Kerrs, The Jacobsons and the Ficketts and a number of military families that had survived Pearl Harbor attack. Their faith, financial support and very hard work would immediately affect numbers of service personnel and generations in the future. Late in 1955, a group of American Baptist Churches denomination executives would attend our church enroute to visits to ABC mission fields. They were very impressed with our church and invited me to visit with the national leaders in New York City. The visit was productive in that the next few years, I gave a month to six weeks speaking around the nation about FBC and finally speaking at the annual Convention in Seattle. During the next four years, hundreds of service men and local people would join the church. Hundreds more would attend the church services. With so many children attending Sunday School, it became apparent we needed an educational building. The building was constructed with volunteer labor at the cost of $41,000.00. Volunteer service men, including the commanding Admiral of the Coast Guard, worked evenings and weekends. Some of the church members provided food. The church purchased three old school buses. The Sunday School and particularly VBS packed the new educational building to capacity. As our church rapidly increased in attendance, opportunity was provided to have three free properties for new churches. The new churches were FBC at Kailua, FBC of Pearly Harbor and FBC of Ewa Beach. I recall viewing the Ewa Beach site with the leaders of our church and being questioned if we were expanding too quickly. My response was we now have the opportunity and privilege to begin a new church. We either decide now or we will not have the opportunity in the future. I remember the trips over the Old Pali Highway to the Kailua Church to preach and then to rush back to FBC of Honolulu to conduct the morning service. I recall the beginning of the FBC of Pearl Harbor and meeting for the first time in a school classroom. We did not have a pulpit, hymnals, or music of any kind. We were delightfully surprised to have eighty in attendance. In all three new churches attendance boomed with many persons coming to Christ and many committing themselves to be in full-time Christian service At the time of the above happenings, none of us realized how far-reaching would be the ministry of FBC or how profound that impact would be on our lives. In retrospect, those years were very special to all of us who were there to minister. Thank you to all those families that did not give up on the church and whose faith will always be deeply appreciated. We have traveled and spoken in over 60 countries. Just last year, while I was in Cambodia, we met with our only American Baptist missionaries in that country. Two hours with them was rich, and to our delight, we found out that this couple received Christ at First Baptist of Honolulu and were baptized in the Ala Wai Canal. This is one of the many true stories of FBC of Honolulu. Thank you, Dad and Mom Fickett, Hamiltons, Chapmans, and Jacobsons, and the Ullrich’s ad Walters, early pastors of the mission churches. Sadly, we had to leave FBC in 1959 because of a medical need with our son (called Bobby in Hawaii) I would join the ABC national staff as Director of Church Extension (new church development). We were the pastoral team in three churches: FBC of Santa Barbara, FBC of Oxnard and the Calvary Baptist church of San Bernadino. I became the Executive Minister of ABC of the Northwest Region, again joining the national staff. Since retirement in 1988, I have lectured on training men and women or ministry in Lituania, Poland and Czech Republic, conducted 32 seminars on Discipleship on 42 cruises through the world. Addendum, June 2012 The following is a brief summary of my family time at FBC, 1955-1959. Dr. Harold Fickett (affectionately known as Dad Fickett): was sent to Honolulu to assess the potential for American Baptist ministry in the Hawaiian Islands. His vision was immense. I was sent to Honolulu to evaluate the potential for the FBCH as the pastor. Most of my peers advised against becoming the pastor. However, we answered the call. Our family of five, Betty, Bob, Paul, Jeanne and Stephen (a baby), all now in their sixties, became part of the memorable adventure at FBC. The church in 1955 had only 19 members. However, four key families, the Hamiltons, the Kerrs, Chapmans, and Jake, the Postal inspector for the Pacific, were the solid foundation of the membership. They provide most of the money for salary and the purchase of the parsonage in Waialae, Kahala. In 1955, the church facilities consisted of a termite -ridden sanctuary and a house used for an office and Sunday School. The local Star-Bulletin newspaper once had a story about the church. “The FBC would collapse if the termites ever quit holding hands.” Indeed, on a number of occasions, we had to close the church’s evening service because of the swarming of the termites. Your present Christian Education building was built by volunteer labor consisting mostly of service personnel. The membership grew rapidly adding over the years; 400-plus members. Most of the members were service personnel. Our church became their church away for home. We spent many days at the airport saying good-bye to service personnel. The church purchased used school buses bringing children and families from the military bases. This ministry became the core or establishing satellite new churches. During the next few years, our church planted three new churches in Pearl Harbor Ewa Beach and Kailua. The properties were free. With funding for ABC, church buildings were built. Each church used the ocean for services of baptism. I would drive over the Old Pali Highway to speak and then return to FBH for the morning service. Our love of the people of Hawaii will always be special. Just two years ago, my wife went home to be with the Lord. A very special Hawaiian family in Maui joined me in scattering her ashes in our much visited Ulua Bay.
Rosemary Burchell: Robert F. (Bob) and Rosemary E. Burchell were asked by our Pastor Lou Barrett at Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California to join him and his family as “missionaries” at the First Baptist Church of Honolulu. This was July or August of 1948. His only stipulation was that we would have to be married and because we had been dating seriously for quite a while, plans were made for a September 25, 1948 marriage at Judson Church with Pastor Lou M. Barrett officiating. The Barrett family left almost immediately for Hawai’i. along with the young people who have served as our Best Man and Matron of Honor – that is Don Fling and Mary Pendleton. Don and the Barrett’s daughter, Andree, had also been dating steadily but no marriage requirement was made of them. Perhaps Andree was younger and would live in the parsonage with her parents. Lou and Louise Barrett had promised that if we would take this big step, they would see to it that we had a nice apartment waiting for us. We, of course, would have to find jobs, for we would not be paid staff. We didn’t leave until a month later and stayed in the Judson parsonage for that month with no furniture except a twin bed, stove, and refrigerator. We were young and didn’t mind! Our Pan American Clipper flight left from Burbank Airport on the evening of October 25, 1948. Following a turbulent flight during the night, there were beautiful sights that morning. We arrived at Honolulu Airport on October 26, 1948. Awaiting us on the tarmac were quite a few folks from the church membership, along with the Barrett family. We were greeted with beautiful leis and alohas. Our apartment turned out to be a one-room shack on the back of the property behind the church parsonage. There were no windows, save wooden outside shutters that could be lowered in the event of torrential rain or wind. We had no plumbing (used the church privies) and showered in the parsonage). No running water except a faucet outside the door, which had only a latch that didn’t close properly. The room was so small that when the sofa we slept on was opened flat, there was not room to walk around it. Suffice it to say, this wasn’t exactly what we had expected, nor was it very suitable for newly-weds given the number of service personnel that were always on the property night and day. But we made the best of it and actually had many good times with servicemen who jammed into our little space for hot dogs cooked over the hot plate. We worked in every capacity imaginable – more like servants than missionaries. I went to work almost immediately for Crockett Sales at Pier 11 by the Aloha Tower. Bob eventually went to work for Steward Pharmacies. Bo and Rei (Marie Steward) were members of the church. Rei was one of the nicest people imaginable and so good to us. We definitely upheld our end of the bargain in every way, but as time went on, we realized it would be a good thing if we left. If you check public records of the time, you will find that Lou Barrett got into trouble with the IRS and that wasn’t the only wrongdoing that occurred. We made arrangements to return to the mainland as soon as possible and took the first and only available passage via American President’s Line a passenger ship that had been converted to troop carrier-USS General Meigs. For me, it was a horrendous voyage as I was desperately seasick the entire trip and this was before seasick meds, etc. Bob and I bore all of the travel expenses involved and this was no small thing for us! It represented every dime we had saved! Travel then was very expensive to Hawaii. All of this was a hard learning experience for two nineteen-year old young people. The night we left, on shipboard, as we were saying goodbyes, Lou Barrett threatened Bob that he would “black ball” him from the American Baptist Convention. Those were empty words as Bob entered California Baptist College at Corona, California and then graduated from Berkley Baptist Divinity School. We served in several churches both in Northern and Southern California. Bob retired as Area Minister for the Northwest Baptist Churches. After Lou Barrett left Honolulu, he was followed by at least three pastors who were good friends of ours- all from Judson Memorial Baptist Church. There were Robert Bradford, Jerald Traeger, James Ledbetter and Betty and Marv Friesen whom we knew and were part of the Judson Fellowship. There were other folks from Judson who also followed: the Barretts and others whose names are lost in the mist of time, but one couple was the Sanders. If Lou Barrett had just channeled his wonderful people skills and outstand preaching ability in other directions, who knows what could have happened. When I wrote the story, I forgot to tell about the Barrett’s obtaining the Army Command car in which we shuffled around everywhere! All of us piled into the vehicle –not very safe-, but there were no accidents. They also managed somehow to get an old school bus and would drive it to downtown Honolulu where they were round up servicemen with a promise of free dinner after church. All of us prepared a big meal every Sunday for the men and it was fun!
Cathy Chang: I heard Jerry Traeger preach and that’s what kept me coming back. I met my husband here and had my babies (triplets) here, I have lots of love and great memories. Cathy Chang Attended First Baptist from 1982-85
Ian Chapman: I came to Hawai’i in 1954 to attend the University of Hawai’i. My parents, Ralph and Madge Chapman, had arrived about a year earlier. There was no pastor at FBC when we arrived and so we joined Olivet Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church. It soon became evident that we didn’t fit there. When Bob Bradford became the pastor of FBC Honolulu, we moved our membership there. When I was beginning my third year at the University, Bob asked me to come on the church staff in the area of what was then called church extension, now church planting. For two years, before going to seminary, I gave primary leadership in starting the FBC of Ewa Beach and the FBC of Pearl Harbor. We met in public schools and I did visitation through the week, set up signs, chairs and led worship services. Eventually pastors were called to both of these churches. The pastor at Ewa Beach was called Rudy .. . . I can’t recall his last name. Harold “Dad” Fickett, Sr. became the pastor at Pearl Harbor. My salary was $100.00 a month, paid by the FBC of Pomona, CA. One day I received a letter from a woman in that church telling me she was praying for me. The envelope was addressed to Ian Chapman, Native Worker, Honolulu, Hawai’i. I suppose she figured that I was a wild-haired savage in a loincloth running through the jungles of O’ahu. I had been converted and called to the ministry in my previous church, the FBC of Burbank CA. While at the FBC Honolulu, the church licensed me for ministry. After graduating from the University of Hawai’I, I graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and received my doctorate from McCormick Theological Seminary. I then served churches in Santa Barbara, Scottsdale, Arizona, Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. My last ministry position was as president of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard (near Chicago). I am now partly retired though working for the Kern family Foundations as the Director of Seminary programs. For the last ten years, I have been deeply involved in the founding and development of the Moscow Theological Seminary in Russia. I am also active in the Baptist World Alliance.
Sana Daliva: Congratulations to First Baptist Church of Honolulu on the celebration of your 40thanniversary. Thanks for being my O’ahu church family. I have enjoyed receiving the welcome and Aloha when visiting the congregation while I am on O’ahu. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’m hoping to celebrate the Christmas season with you next month.
Oscar David Droste: [Oscar Droste is a friend of Rodney Lum. They worked at Marine Surf together. He visited our church a few times with Rodney Lum.] Rodney says that Oscar’s nickname is Audi. My wife and I go back to Indiana for summer and Christmas. We are here about 185 days two trips a year for 39 years.
Sharon Dumas: I remember that on the evening I went forward to join the church in 1971, I was asked to be the church librarian. I was shocked that I would be asked to get involved in a ministry so soon. However, I accepted the job and have been serving the church ever since. The difference is that back then, I tried to do things in my own strength. Now I serve with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. One of the fondest memories of the church is joining a small prayer group which met at 4:30 either on Tuesday or Thursday mornings in the room where the missions department is. The Turners, the Johnsons, The Guthries, and Joyce Morse are people that I remember as being regular members. After praying, we would go to Wisteria’s for breakfast before everyone rushed off to work. Jean Guthrie had been on my case to join the group for some time. She threatened to call me on the phone if I didn’t show up and sure enough, she did call me bright and early one morning, so I started going. I was always kidded for missing the morning that my child was born. There will always be a special place in my heart for the prayer partners of yesteryear. Jean Guthrie had a special place in my heart for another reason. We used to sit beside each other in choir, and I would always get my pitch from her, so I began calling her “note.” She returned the compliment and to this day Loye Guthrie still calls me “note”. Another precious memory of the church that I have is the Elua Me Ekahi (two’s and one’s) which was the first Sunday School class that I attended here at the church. It was usually referred to as the E.M.E. class. We met in the corner room-upstairs that is now used by other congregations. Cathy Tipton was the teacher. Most of us had small children and some of us had no relatives other than our immediate families here on the island, so Cathy became a mother to all of us. There were officers in the class, and we took turns arranging monthly socials for the class. The class members spent a lot of time together and became very close friends. In the eighties, Jerry Traeger asked me to be the Sunday School Superintendent. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call from him on Christmas morning to wish me Merry Christmas. It made a big impression on me to think that he cared enough about people in his congregation to give up his Christmas to call people. Our family has had special moments in the church also. I was baptized in the ocean at Ala Moana shortly after joining the church. Both of my children were raised and baptized in the church also. Pastor Al Van Selow had the custom of selecting a “Mother of the Year” on Mother’s Day. The year Mary Frances, my daughter, graduated from high school, I was given that honor. Robin Makapagal wrote a poem which my two children read that day. My mom was there that day also which made the surprise even more special. About ten years ago, Bob Hamilton suggested that we have a practical lesson in the parable of the talents. Each person in the congregation was given $20.00 and told to invest it for the Lord. People did many different things with their money. Ed, my son, and I made a children’s book. It was a neat experience because neither of us would have ever attempted that on our own. We had fun working together on it. People were not forgotten on the holidays. Jerry Johnson had the entire church for Thanksgiving at his house and the Tiptons had a get together at their Makiki home during the Christmas season. Cathy lived near the Fasis and became good friends with Mrs. Fasi (wife of the mayor) so from time to time, Mrs. Fasi (Joyce) visited our church. Other popular homes for socials in more recent years have been the Lancasters, the Pauls, the Hamiltons, and the Hartmanns. I praise the Lord for the many friendships and happy memories I have formed in this church in the last 30 years. I look forward to many more years of growing spiritually and serving the Lord here at First Baptist. My Memories of Pastors: Sharon Dumas (read for 90th celebration) I have fond memories of many of the pastors, but I have time to share only a few. I joined the church in 1971, shortly after Pastor Tipton became the senior pastor. The family lived beside the Fasi’s in Makiki, so every once in a while, either Mayor or Mrs. Fasi would join us in church activities. Bill’s wife, Kathy taught my Sunday School class which was called E. M. E. or Elua me Ekahi because there were couples as well as singles in the class. The class had officers and was well organized, so there were monthly social events. The Tipton children David and Mark grew up in our church. I remember their blowing the conch shell at the beginning of the church services. Doctor Van Selow was the pastor who first got me into the leadership of the church. I was very humbled when he asked me to be in charge of the flock system which involved counseling. It seemed to me that I was being asked to be the right-hand man of the pastor. I did not feel at all qualified. However, I accepted the position and learned a lot of skills which are still helping me today. I was also impressed with his style of developing leaders. The decisions were left with the person in charge of the activity. However, he was always there to help when needed. Pastor Van Selow was a match maker. There was a time when it seemed that my daughter might become part of his family. Doctor Van Selow was very erudite. No matter how simple the question, there was never a simple or quick answer. I never understood most of the explanations he gave me when I asked a question. I also remember Jerry Traeger. I served as Sunday School Superintendent under him. I was very pleasantly surprised one Christmas morning to receive a call from him wishing me “Merry Christmas”. I could not believe that he would spend his Christmas morning calling his parishioners. I met our present pastor, even before he became our pastor because I was on the search committee that called him to our church. As our committee worked, we used blind votes and the results were usually unanimous. This confirmed to me that this was the person God wanted us to call. Over the years we have had some challenges but also many laughs as we minister together. I count it a privilege to be on his leadership team.
Frances Faria: Pastor Barry Lovett helped me when I was on drugs. Women’s Bible study is funny
Val Godley: In thinking over the fact of 40 years have passed since the dedication of the church building, I am thrilled to be able to write a few words about the First Baptist Church, Honolulu. It was there in 1979 that I turned my life over to Jesus and He gave me a complete heart transplant. Ted and Beth Livingston had asked me to go to church with them many times. I always refused; they prayed, and one day I came to church with them and was overwhelmed by the feeling that God was talking directly to me. The sermon that day, by Glenn Connell, was “The Blessedness of Forgiveness” and I could not believe that God would forgive me and let me start over. So FBC was the start of a walk which has grown daily and was nurtured in me from day one by the pastors and congregation. Each person at FBC touched my life and it has not been the same since. Today, to say that I am grateful cannot even touch how I feel. From the bottom of my heart, I say thanks to you, FBC, and all those who started me along a path of walking with Jesus. Today I teach Bible study, am a prayer warrior and have even been asked to preach at my church, FBC Fort Townsend, WA and it all started with the dear Christians at FBC. How wonderful it is to have been touched by those saints and how great and merciful is our God who helped build a church where so many sinners could be saved. Thank you FBC and thank you God.
Linda Groth:I came when Pastor Tipton was here. I remember photo scavenger hunts. Once, our team got hold of the photo requirements ahead of time. I miss Joyce Morse and all the floral arrangement and miss attending PCS (Positive Christian Singles) and the music ministry, 1976-78, 1984?
Bob Hamilton: Howard Wong was the architect for the sanctuary. His wife, Corine, was the church organist for several years before she left for Europe to get her doctorate in religion. Howard told me that our sanctuary was the first commercial building he designed after graduating from architecture school. It is unique in that all the sections were formed on site and then stood up in place. The Wongs still live up on Diamond Head, close to Triangle Park. Pat and I (Bob Hamilton) were married in the original building in 1961. I started attending the church in 1951 when our family moved to Hawaii. I have great memories of the Sunday lunches we had down in the basement under the sanctuary. In the mid 50’s, we had a bus which we used to pick up military from Pearl Harbor and the old Armed Forces YMCA down on Richards Street. But they were more open in those days, (not the fortress they built now.) I played the trumpet every Sunday evening for the Sing services. We would raise all the windows and Dr. Lou Barrett, Pastor and President of Jackson College in Manoa) told me, “Bob, blow your horn real loud as I want those JW’s to hear how much fun we Baptists are having over here.”
Fred & Tressa Hickernell: How very special it was to visit First Baptist Church of Honolulu. We enjoyed so much the Sunday School Class with the special friend and with a continuation of our lessons in Phoenix. Your congregation was so friendly. Thank you for the nice potluck lunch on October 5. I truly enjoyed the fellowship and the enthusiasm they all shared. Fred and I appreciate so much the lunch and sharing we had about the earlier days of First Baptist, Honolulu. I will try to write something about the short history while I was there. We hope your trip to Downey and your Halloween activities is a success. Fred, supposedly, was to go to Japan in the service of the United States Air Force. Fred left for Okinawa in the middle of September, but I stayed in Honolulu with my parents at 67 Wailupe Circle. After he found housing, I would join him. Much to our surprise, his orders were changed to a six-week tour of duty at Wheeler Air Force Base to study tropical meteorology. The first of August he arrived. So, we had a second honeymoon. We attended the First Baptist Church in Honolulu at the corner of Pensacola and Kinau. There was no minister and the congregation was under fifty in number. Most of the congregation was in the military when we first attended the church. We realized that there was much work and prayer in order to make the church grow. Dr. Harold L. Fickett, Sr. was called as the interim pastor to close the church because of its poor physical condition as well as its very few members. Even though he was retired, and, in his eighties, he was very active and energetic. He was just the person to keep the church alive and flourishing. Since I had been trained as a teacher and taught one year, I served at the church in the Kindergarten Department. I made a small play kitchen out of a nail keg, plywood and wooden boxes (sink, cabinets, and stove). This was the third such project since my graduation from Arizona State University. It was also one of the many efforts to make things out of nothing since there was no money. One Sunday evening, we were attending church services and Dad Fickett was preaching. It started to rain so hard that the rain was falling through the worn-out roof. Someone asked, “What shall we do?” My mother, Opal Kerr, said, “Let’s move back under the balcony.” The sermon continued. The church was in such bad condition that the wood porch fell through one Sunday morning when we had guests. Someone had to run for supports. With no kitchen, it was difficult to have fellowship meals with the church family. We had potluck suppers to which all the service men contributed. I also served as church secretary to Dad Fickett. This was a volunteer job, but he kept me very busy preparing the bulletins, writing letters, and keeping the membership up to date. He was constantly thinking about the church and how it could be rejuvenated and renewed with God’s help. He did not want to close the church even though that was job he was sent to do. At Thanksgiving, my parents had invited several guests to their home. These included Dad and Mom Fickett. While we were visiting waiting for dinner to be served, Dad Fickett asked for a card table to put in the carport so he could continue his church work. He was always thinking of ways to share God’s love. The servicemen and young people of the church were so caring of each other. possibly because they were so far from home and lonely themselves. One couple had just been married in the church one evening, and the next morning, many of these young people and servicemen showed up at the bride and groom’s doorstep with breakfast – pancakes, eggs, sausage and bacon. Weren’t they surprised! During my six months in Honolulu, I felt the warmth and friendship of so many people. They truly cared about each other and were willing to work hard to make God’s work a reality at First Baptist Church Honolulu. I have many fond memories of those times and how the church helped to keep me from being lonely as a new bride without her husband. Then two years later, First Baptist Church Honolulu played a very important part in our family’s life as our first son, Frederic, John, was dedicated by Pastor Robert Bradford. That was on our way back from Okinawa to the mainland and an assignment to Willow Run Air Station, Michigan, where Fred finished his active duty with the Air Force. Before my parents left the islands in 1962, three new American Baptist Churches were started, and a new educational building was completed in 1956. My father, Josh S. Kerr, was chairman of the building committee for the educational building. Upon his return to Phoenix, he took the role of Chairman of the Building Committee as First Baptist Church Phoenix moved from their downtown location to the center of a growing Phoenix. A new sanctuary was finished in 1963 (in Honolulu) after they had left the islands, but they were glad to have had a part in building it. The associations they made over the years while helping to restore this church’s vitality ad outreaches were treasured.
Jane Kouchi: Many years ago, between 1939 and 1946, my sister and I attended Kaahumanu Elementary School. One of the activities we participated in was going to the First Baptist Church on the corner of Kinau and Pensacola Streets. Bible stories were read to us and we sang songs. I really enjoyed this outing as I loved singing. (She remembers the main building of the school facing Piikoi Street)
Crystal Lancaster: (read for 90th Anniversary) I have been a member of FBC for 40 years. When I began attending FBC, I came intending to never become a member. I had come from a bad situation from my home church and truly believed that I could participate in any church and not become a member. There are many reasons why I’ve stayed for 40 years and let me share them with you: I remember…
1a. Hearing the true Gospel, words right out of the Bible being preached, taught, and lived. From Bill Tipton, Jerry Traeger, Al Van Selow, Ron Williams, and now Pastor Barry… there has always been preachers of the Gospel from the pulpit of FBC. 1. Loye Guthrie stopping me at Ala Moana asking how I was and that he missed seeing me in church. (I hadn’t gone for a while.) 2. Teaching the Pre-Schoolers on Sunday mornings and witnessing Denia Manadic and Mary Frances Dumas accidently pulling Eddie Dumas’ pants right off. 3. Driving the FBC Volkswagon van to pick up students from UH and returning the key to the office to hear a “good morning, bus driver” from the man who helped out in the office. 4. Taking that same Volkswagon van to go joy riding with my women’s Bible study and checking out the boys at the Kahala Hilton’s valet service. We would stop, look, beep, wave, and drive away… very quickly. 5. Listening to a voice message from Jean Guthrie telling me that she was sorry to hear about my miscarriage and that she was praying for me. 6. Singing old hymns out loud and proud every Sunday by the leading of Jim Nikkel. 7. Teaching the Youth group: Tony & Derrick Carpenter, Paul & John Hamilton, David Keuning in the Hale… then Judy & Phillip Ng, Jasmine Humphries, Brianna Lovett, Karli & Alan Ho and the Axtell chicks. 8.Going to the Water Park with the Youth when Pastor Barry first arrived in Hawaii. He slid down the big slide and didn’t get up right away and the first thought that ran through my mind was, “Oh no… we broke the new Pastor.” 9. Joyce Morse telling me that hearing scripture gave her “chicken skin”. 10. Jody Lovett fanning her legs under her heavy choir robe in the foyer. 11. The women that sit at the table our Bible Study group: From Jennie Pee, Marla Sabadell, Karyn Yuen, Suzette Lee, Cynthia Won, Marti McCoy, Brenda Clark, Suzann & Elaine Easter, to Jammie, Sonnie, Francis, Gwen, Glenda, Kim, Kelly, Allie, Paula, Piper, Kayleigh, Linda, Sally, Melissa, Jody, Adelle, Marcy, Ramona, Julie, Wendy, Connie, Leslie, Michelle, Sandra, Chris, Megumi and more. Women who share their lives with me and I am privileged to know and call my sisters. 12. And in the time of need, church members pouring out of their cars and running up my stairs to hold me in their arms to comfort me. They provided me with words of wisdom, fed me and my daughter and got me through some dark valleys. FBC, together we have worked numerous Keiki Carnivals, decorated and stuffed thousands of Easter Eggs, presented plays, choir cantatas, packed and prayed over hundreds of shoe boxes, raised money and sent aid to devastated countries like the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, walked in charity walks, ran volleyball tournaments, ate millions of casseroles, housed missionaries, provided for the poor, welcomed babies, and said our “good-byes” to many. But even more, you, FBC, have helped me raise my daughter, guided me in my troubled times, and held me accountable through this life of mine. You have given me a place to serve, to be loved and to love others. I am so grateful that even though I tried not to be a member of this congregation, Danny Choy, who was the music director 40 years ago sat me down and asked me, “Why aren’t you member of the church?”. I told him my plan to attend but not be a member and he opened up his Bible and showed me how important it was for me to be bound to the Body of Believers. If that was God’s plan, if that is what God wanted from me, then FBC was where I wanted to plant myself in. And that is the reason I stayed for 40 years. Because God said so. Thank you FBC… you are truly changed lives that changed my life.
Jim Ledbetter: I do remember my first sermon in the old sanctuary. My sermon notes were on the pulpit and the wind blew them all over. I never did get them back in order.
Rodney Lum: I was baptized in 1956 when I was in the sixth grade. Reverend Bradshaw and Reverend Ledbetter were present. All I can remember about the building of First Baptist of Honolulu is Wally Shaw. The building had lots of odd and end materials. The fixture for the dimming light was made of plastic pipes. I had a part in building the stairs on Pensacola. I remember Guy Ward, Bill Paul and Ray Keuning, the chief architect of the stairs and wall. We built it with a cement mixer and hand-carried cement. I regret not having a chance to tear down the spaceship gym and repave the parking lot. These kinds of work are precious memories Rodney Lum (Read for the 90th) I have been attending this church since I was in the sixth grade, that is the year about 1956. When I was playing at Queen Kaahumanu School, a lady from the cafeteria invited me to a Sunday School class. That was the beginning of my Christian maturity. Later I found out that it was FBC Sunday School which was meeting at the school. When the educational building at the church was completed in about 1956, we moved to the new building at the church. I want to thank Dorothy and Leonard Nelson for feeding me when I hung around the church. I remember when the educational center was built. Bob Bradford was the pastor at the time, and I remember that Pastor Bradford had a good-looking daughter. After Pastor Bradford left, Rev. Ledbetter became the pastor. I brought my friends to church and Rev. Ledbetter influenced their spiritual lives, especially that of my best friend, Lester Kam. I also was baptized by Rev. Ledbetter in our old sanctuary also known as “Termite Palace.” The baptistry was in the same position as it is today. In fact, our new sanctuary was built around the baptismal site. During my youth, Stafford and Ann Morse taught our Sunday School class. The class enjoyed many social activities including rides on the racing catamarans in Hawaii Kai and trips to Kalama Beach. During my Boy Scout years, I earned the God and Country Award at church. In order to get this Scout award, I had to learn the church history. Rev. Ledbetter gave me the history that Doctor Fickett had written. While studying the history, I learned that there had been some discrimination against Orientals. However, I never experienced that myself. I wish I still had my notes. When I was a teenager, I joined the group called Grey -Y. I also was a part of PCS (Positive Christian Singles). Many of our church members, including the Fials, the Horners, Marla and Charles Sabadell and others were all married because of this program. Jim and Nancy Alexander were the leaders of this group. In the year 1965, our most colorful pastor, Jack Knighton, arrived. He and his wife were very tall. Gerrie, his first wife, also answered some of my spiritual questions. Jack told me that he removed his tattoo that he had gotten while he was a drunken sailor because he thought it was a sin of shame to have a tattoo. About this time, I was elected to be a deacon, despite the fact that I was only 21 years old. Bob Hamilton helped me a lot during this time. Bill Tipton arrived in 1970. He motivated us to do Christian service at 110 percent or to put forth our maximum effort. He lived next door to the Fasis in upper Makiki. I remember going to his house for church functions. During this time, Bob Hamilton, Robert Tadish and Ray Kusumoto were Sunday School teachers who greatly influenced my life. I want to thank each of them for making a difference in my life. In the late 70’s or early 80’s we had a visitation program for visitors to our church. One couple told me that because of my visit to them, they had decided to join the church. One of our later pastors, Ron Williams, married Nicole and me. The Van Selows introduced the idea of our church not being a strictly haole church but rather a church like a rainbow with mixed ethnicities. Since these times, my participation in the life of FBC has been an integral part of my life. I have participated in many social and service activities through-out the year. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
Rodney on right
Joyce Morse: Our family started attending First Baptist Church in September 1961, in the original building. We then met in the fellowship hall while the present sanctuary was being built and dedicated in 1963. In December 1970, we went to the mainland for Christmas. My husband died suddenly at age 47. When the three daughters and I came back, Pastor Bill did the memorial service here. (It was his first). He also presided over the weddings of the three girls in July 1974, June 1975 and July 1976 in this church. The Lances and Pauls were also involved. Over the years, I have done the flowers for many weddings here. In October 1975, 7 of us singles met with pastor and started the Positive Christian Singles- for ages 18-98. Joe Sunderland was the youngest, I was the oldest and Rodney Lum in between. We were the first such group on the island. At one point, we had 60 or more from all different faiths, Christians and non-Christian, at our “Talk it Over” sessions. Eventually after about a dozen years, it phased out as many other churches started their own singles groups. I became “mom” to so many, especially the young service men. I am still close to some of this group and consider them family. In 1980, I was on the committee to plan the 50th anniversary of our church. We were the First Baptist Church in the islands. I designed the logo for the occasion, along with doing special decoration and flower arrangements. The log is portrayed below.
Nancy Newfeld: Aloha dear Friends. Congratulations to the First Baptist Church leaders for forty years of continuous service to the people of Hawaii by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ on the corner of Pensacola and Kinau. How does one describe five years of total involvement at the First Baptist Church of Honolulu? My husband, Jerry Newfeld, and I joined the church in the fall of 1967 and brought our two daughters, Michelle, 1, and Tamara, 2, to all of the events for the next five years. Jerry served in many leadership positions while earning his PH. D in chemistry at the University of Hawaii and I served as the Day Care Director for four of those years. The church was our life for spiritual growth, for social interactions, and for many service opportunities. Like today, the opportunities were limitless. Before Jerry passed away in 1999, we talked frequently of our experiences in Hawai’i and kept in touch with many friends made during those years. I cherish those friends today! And now for the future – may the ministry of the First Baptist Church of Honolulu flourish and continue to meet the needs of people in Honolulu. I applaud you for allowing God to work through each one of you. 1967-72
Jim and Louise Nikkel: Whenever we reflect upon the best years of our lives, we always pick the decade 1983-1993, our Honolulu years. and we are quick to add that the principal reason for this is our experience at First Baptist Church. There were good times and there were not-so-good times during that decade, just as anyone might experience anywhere. but the difference was the good folks at FBCH. We formed friendships in that church that are a strong as any we’ve had in our lives – some that are closer than members of our own families. Our incoming e-mails to this day testify to an ongoing relationship with so many we met during those years at FBCH. Of course, we must admit that we acquired some of them by an expensive adoption procedure – 25 cents a month, the allowance they felt would be appropriate! The pool of adoptees amongst the young crowd as extensive and willing and we took on all who came palm up. We had a wonderful time interacting with the great young people of FBCH. Perhaps even more inspiring were many of the older ones, a good many of whom have gone to glory now. We think fondly of Horace Baetzel, who tried hard to make us believe he was a crusty old curmudgeon but didn’t fool anyone. That he was a softy could easily be seen, but the crowd of young folks often gathered around him to trade quips. Leota Bredeson is another who has left us. She always had a smile for everyone, bless her heart! We have many other happy memories of older folks who have gone on ahead- Glen and Elsie Wise, George and Norine Henderson- too many to mention them all. Music always plays a large part in memories formed as a congregation. We enjoyed some fantastic hymn singing, with Buddy Mac at the piano and Ruth Rogers at the organ. In later years, Carolyn and Roy Yanagida added so much to our music at FBCH. Many more deserve mention- choir singers, choir leaders, and many fine soloists – both vocal and instrumental. And how could we ever forget hearing the way the FBCH congregation sang out loud and clear on “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”? When we arrived in Honolulu, we made a list from the yellow pages of churches we would visit before we decided on a church home. We had been to a couple of the churches on our list before we got to FBCH. Pastor Jerry Traeger shook our hands as we left that first Sunday morning, and said he planned on coming to visit us during that week. We invited him to lunch along with Peggy. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with not only the Traegers, but with First Baptist Church. Following the Traegers, the Van Selows, came along and once again we were blessed with great leadership. Both the Traegers and the Van Selows are among our frequent e-mailers, and so the bond continues. We wish many more years of blessings to those of you who are still on the scene as part of the ongoing story of FBCH. Hearing how you have embraced the Lovetts, your new pastor and family, makes us feel assured that you will have years of blessings ahead. God bless you all. You can’t begin to know how much we wish we were still there with you! Happy Anniversary! Much love to you all.
Dianne O’Steen: I came in 2017 and felt welcome and was eventually asked to be on the leadership team. The Fellowship Director position involved serving people, so they feel welcome.
Bill and Carl Paul: When we first came to Hawaii, we started attending FBCH and when we joined, we immediately became part of the FBCH Family, a family who many of the members we are still in contact with after 45 years. Those were years of maturing not only in our physical selves but maturing in our spiritual growth being offered the opportunity to see and be involved in many facets of the life of the church. We had the opportunity to be under the leadership of 5 pastors during our stay there, we saw the mortgage for the building paid off and burnt; coats of paint on the inside and exterior of the building; play yard and play pieces being built; and the courtyard welcome area improved upon. We had the privilege of serving as deacon and deaconess, Sunday School teachers at several levels, working on the search committee when calling a new pastor, working in the kitchen for Wednesday night Bible Studies, presiding over the WMS – Women Missionary Society. We were able to host the young people New Year’s Eve Party for several years, along with our own memorable class Christmas White Elephant Party, where often when cleaning the cupboards 6 months later we would find treasures conveniently forgotten. Also planning Mother and Daughter Banquets, Beverly and Debbie’s special Christmas tea, picnics at the beach and the always delicious potlucks which many of our great folks shared their recipes for the Centennial cookbook which I still use in our home. Bill had the opportunity of being the Youth Director for a time. We saw many young military couples come and grow and become involved, to then be transferred but to hear back from them how they had plugged into their new church taking what they learned with them. It just makes you think how many missionaries FBCH has sent out across the country, Each of these opportunities gave us the privilege to interact with so many different people through whose wisdom we grew and now brings back so many special memories to cherish, afforded us through the love of FBCH Family. Our congratulations on the anniversary celebration of 50 years and may God’s blessing reign for 50 more. 1967-2008
Mike and Ponnie Reynolds We were members of the First Baptist Church Honolulu from December 1992 to August 1996. We were in Bob Hamilton’s Bible study class on Sundays. We were also involved in one of the church’s Christmas celebrations. Ponnie played an angel and I played a shepherd. We helped out on occasions in the art and crafts area with the children. We did enjoy our time over there with the military and we are considering with God’s guidance on coming back there while I still work for the federal government in a few years. We both really miss the Islands and we hope to see them again next year for a visit. Take care and God bless you and your church for the coming years There is a photo attached of us in Florida this last July fourth. (Photo has since been lost)
Dean Schmerbauch (Came in 2019): Wed. night Bible studies impacted my life.
Marilyn Kerr Solter: One of the first orders of business after moving to Honolulu in July 1954 was to find a church home. That wasn’t hard as the First Baptist Church was the only American Baptist Church on the island of O`ahu. It was small and very run down. We used to laugh and say the only reason it was standing was because the termites were holding hands! So, it was called “Termite Palace” We were greeted warmly on our first Sunday with a mini congregation of probably no more than 35. The congregation consisted mainly of service personnel, a few families and single service men. As a senior in high school, I was in “pig heaven” to be one of the few single girls in the congregation! There was no question that this would be our church. It was obvious that there was work to be done and our family was ready for the challenge. My parents, John and Opal Kerr, had long been active in church work, both locally and statewide in Phoenix, Arizona, and made contact with friends in the ministry who would help meet the needs of First Baptist, Honolulu. The first order of business was to get an interim minister and before long, Dr. and Mrs. Harold Fickett arrived to fill the job. From that point on, they were known as Mom and Dad Fickett. They could not have been a better choice.! Mom and Dad Fickett were warm and loving and eager to get the church back on its feet. Dad Fickett’s sermons were dynamic and his appeal to homesick service personnel was just the right touch. I had also been active in church and had worked with the Baptist Youth Fellowship as a state officer. We started Sunday night meetings, sometimes taking a church bus to the local YMCA to meet service personnel and encourage them to come to our meetings and the church service that followed. Our crusading efforts paid off and many found a church home for the duration of their military stay. My mother pitched right in to facilitate the Wednesday night suppers before prayer meeting, something she had done for years at First Baptist Phoenix. I will never forget some of the Wednesday night prayer meetings and Sunday night services during certain times of the year. It would rain so hard the roof would leak and we had to put buckets in strategic spots while the small congregation moved to the drier areas! During the muggy season, usually sometime in September when the trade winds seemed to cease, the termites would swarm, attracted to the lights. The solution was to turn off most of the church lights, leaving only enough that the minister could read his text. It was worship in the dark while seeing the light! Our first full-time minister, Rev. Robert (Bob) Bradford, arrived in late 1954 or early 1955. (I am unsure whether Bob came alone initially, and the family followed, or if they all came at once. I know he was at our home for Thanksgiving dinner in 1954. I am sure the church knows the date.) He was young and enthusiastic with an equally charming wife and three young children. His ministry certainly got First Baptist going after the jump-start for Dad Fickett. There was continued growth from that time on, until I left for college in August 1955. My memories, while somewhat hazy on specifics, are of a church full of love and caring for each other, of hearing the Word of God from dedicated ministry and lay people alike, and of a place where you always felt at home. I remember a young black service man, whose name I believe was Ollie who played a mean piano for our singing. I remember parties and picnics with church members , many in our own home, going to the beach the day after Christmas in 1954 with a bunch of service men from the church and thinking it was so cool to be at the beach in winter, of service men from church we invited to dinner who couldn’t get enough of my mother’s fabulous cooking. It was a joyous time and I am proud of my parents for all the effort and love they gave in helping restore the church. Marilyn Kerr Solter, sister of Tressa Hinckernell
Bill and Cathye Tipton: Thank you for asking for thoughts for First Baptist. I am sorry Dr. Bill cannot tell you briefly all the memories of ministry in that small building with a giant heart. You will have to settle for a few of my own that brought smiles to our heart in reflecting. As a mother, I guess my most precious memories are of the smaller children sitting up front by themselves while we moms eyeballed them from behind. Sometimes not always knowing “who”, we recognized the shirt as we passed the clothes around in the 70’s. Then of course we know our babies were grown because they “suddenly” seemed to be sitting “behind” us now. As a family, we remember Bill’s dad visiting from the mainland for 6-8 weeks and he would spend each day “repairing/rebuilding” something for our little building while he was there. We remember lovely weddings, baptisms, and new lives in Christ being born. We remember the young couples who came/took leadership immediately and at times, received their “Official “hand of fellowship” certificates on the same Sunday. As I type this, I see many of your faces before me. Many who took their faith seriously and lived a life that still bears fruit as we hear from so many each year from all over the country. I see you visiting in the courtyard, sitting in your favorite pew, standing and giving testimony. The building was a symbol of all that could be good in our life/homes if we allowed God to visit us in those pews. The young adults who walked by each workday and members who spoke to them, bringing them to meet Pastor and seeing them worship with us the next day and many coming down the aisle to their newfound Lord. Eleven years and one month of our lives are invested in that building and those who visited it. Dr. Bill’s personal journey as he built the large wooden cross that used to be on the platform behind the pulpit was a life changing experience for him as well as those of you who faithfully came to work, worship marry, dedicate your children and proclaim your faith in Christ by the presence of your cars in the parking lot each service, May God bless those of you who worship now, in that truly “holy” place.
David (Waxer) Tipton: Rarely when a construction worker shows up for work each day, does he reflect beyond the quality of the present job at hand. The framer and block layer are concerned that it is plumb, and joints are solid. They do not dwell upon the laughter and the tears that will flow from that house or building, the lives that will be impacted; changed forever by the interaction that takes place in that very location. But none the less, each step is crucial for the next to happen. Nothing could be more true about a church. God births it in the heart of His servants, who He then gathers together to first form the fellowship, and then the facility. But it is there in that facility where the nursery worker changes diapers Sunday after Sunday, the Sunday School teacher comes up with creative lessons and songs Sunday after Sunday, the usher, the greeter . . . each like the initial carpenter sees only the job at hand, sometimes forgetting they are investing into eternity. As First Baptist Honolulu celebrates its 40th anniversary of its present sanctuary, I call to hearts and minds to reflect and be encouraged that those “deeds” did not end that day but are living in ways none of could fathom. My own Sunday School class was poured into us by many like the Johnsons, and Rick and Jan Davis, that later became the youth group that was led by Rich Jacobson, we were so “trained up as children in the way that we should go” that I since followed the call to full-time ministry and have been called all around the world, preaching in churches, schools, parks and universities, planted a church, and have seen hundreds come to know Jesus. Of my three best friends in that same group, the two Hamilton brothers are successful Christian businessmen and active leaders in their churches in communities, and Tim Hawkenson is a full-time youth pastor as well . . . I can only imagine the lives these men have touched and the fruit that is flowing all over the world. So as you can celebrate the faithfulness of God, be encouraged you who presently answer the call to be the watchmen on the wall on the corner of Kinau and Pensacola that He who began the work will be faithful to complete it. I praise God that you are there touching lives as you have so richly touched and impacted mine. (Waxer’s dad made this cross and at one point tied Waxer to it and told him to never think of the cross as just jewelry. Sharon Dumas)
Jerry and Peggy Traeger: Aloha, Peggy and I would like to add our congratulations to the many others you will receive today. During the nearly 4 years we were privileged to serve as your pastor, we never ceased to marvel at the beauty of the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Honolulu. It surely aided in our worship. We remember with great delight the many services that were held there. Surely God’s blessing has been upon the church and we pray His blessing will continue.
Shelly Morse Turner: This is a hodgepodge of random memories of FBC Honolulu. My sisters, Norine, Leanne, and I began attending Sunday School in September 1961. I was in the 6th grade, Norine the 4th and Leanne the 2nd. As we didn’t begin attending regular church services until the following year, when Wally Shaw’s wife insisted we go, I don’t have much recollection of the termite palace. I do remember attending the Christmas pageant in the old sanctuary. My impression was tall-sided pews and a lot of dark wood. Our mother, Joyce, did not attend Sunday services until 1966 or 67. She worked Sundays at Conrad’s Jewelers at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. While the new sanctuary was being built, church services were held in the Fellowship Hall. We sat in rows of folding chairs. The atmosphere was bright as it is now, but a lot of noise from outside filtered in. The new sanctuary was a welcome change because it was quiet inside. When the new sanctuary was first used, there was no carpet on the floor- just painted cement. The rows of metal folding chairs were moved from the fellowship hall to the sanctuary. The pews were a special order from the mainland, and took several months to arrive. It was well worth the wait. Our church had comfortable, padded pews. Carpet was added in the aisles and edges, but the painted cement remained under the pews. Sometime in the early to mid-1960’s, the Ledbetters left and the Knightons (Pastor Jack, Jerry and their two teenage sons) arrived. The Kahala parsonage was sold and a Vineyard Avenue condo was purchased with an arrangement where the church either shared ownership with the Knightons or provided part of the purchase price. Pastor Jack felt the Kahala property was too far from the church site. I think he was used to city living as well and wasn’t comfortable with suburban yard care. Jerry Knighton played the organ during services. I remember her knitting socks during committee meetings to organize church events. The annual Mother/Daughter Tea held near Mother’s Day was always a big event with formal table settings. Pastor Jack spent a lot of hours visiting with my sister Norine during her many hospital stays. Throughout my junior high and high school years, my constant Sunday School classmates were Rhoda Moore, Cindy Lance and Lois Cunningham. (We all graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1968.) It seems there were as many as six or eight people in the class, but it was usually small. Our teacher was Bob Wilson, a student at UH who worked as the FBC janitor. Bob borrowed a book on the history of Christianity from the library of Hawaii that he constantly renewed. He finally just kept it and paid for it as a lost book. Upon his graduation from UH, he married Audie (I can’t remember her surname. She and her parents were prominent church members.) The couple moved to the mainland shortly thereafter. Rodney Lum was three or four years older than I, but always visited with me and my sisters each Sunday – usually under the “skunk” trees along the Pensacola Street sidewalk. He was a role model for us. As an upperclassman, he was paving the way into the world ahead of us. He was always helpful with church activities and was an usher in the new sanctuary. Ralph and Martha Lance were a huge presence. They spent many hours visiting and mentoring my sister and me. Other prominent families in the late 1960’s and early 1970‘s that I remember were the Moores, Wises, Jensens, Johnsons, Pauls, Keunings, Guthries, Wards and Kusumotos. The elder Lances, Wises, Cunninghams and Guthries were of a similar age to my parents- their children were my sisters and my contemporaries. The Jensens, Hamiltons, Pauls and Keunings were a half-generation younger. My sister and I babysat for the Keunings and Hamiltons. As with most young couples establishing careers and families, they were not fat in the pocketbook. Pat Hamilton drove a Corvair with an accelerator that stuck from time to time. Riding with her from my house to hers was an adventure. Bob drove a VW bug. One Sunday, their son John who was seven or eight, while waiting for his folks to leave church, spent his time walking up and over the top of the VW from front to back and back to front. In the late 1960’s, the big church scandal was Pastor Jack Knighton and Connie Keuning running off to the mainland together. That event created a sudden need to find a new pastor, resulting in the arrival of the Tiptons. Pastor Bill, Cathy and their sons, David and Mark, plugged in immediately and were a good fit for the congregation. They purchased a home in Makiki off Round Top Drive just up the street from the Honolulu Mayor, Frank Fasi. Ray Keuning and Jerry Knighton continued as members of the church and Jerry moved into one of the three units in the house (current parsonage) next to the church after the Vineyard Condo was sold. I think the church day care was established about the time Pastor Bill arrived. It was very successful, but it became difficult to conduct some church activities. The Fellowship Hall and Sunday School classrooms were overtaken with the day care needs (cubbies, small tables and chairs, toys, etc.) A rocket-like jungle gym was built in the courtyard. It seemed as if the day care was running the church instead of the church running the day care. The Wises, at their home in Hawaii Kai, and later the Johnsons, who were dorm parents at Kamehameha School, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner every year for everyone who wanted to come and for those singles who did not have a place to go. The Lances, Jensens, the Morses and many others enjoyed the gathering. The Johnsons continued the tradition until they moved to the mainland in the late 1990’s. I call the early 1970’s” the wedding years”. Within my age group, there were several weddings in the church. Marilee Wise married Mark Satake and my sisters and I married servicemen we met at church. My mother, Joyce, made many of the bouquets and flower arrangements. The ladies of the church helped decorate the sanctuary and courtyard. For those of us who had receptions in the courtyard, the rocket jungle gym is a prominent backdrop in many of our wedding pictures. My Husband and I moved to the mainland in 1976 and did not return to Hawaii for a visit until 2004. By then, the only members still attending FBC Honolulu that I remembered were Ralph and Martha Lance, Rodney Lum, Rick Ambler, Sharon Dumas and my mother, Joyce Morse. Many members retired and moved to the mainland to live near their grandchildren (Wises, Johnsons, Jensens, Pauls, Hamiltons) The red carpeting in the sanctuary has been replaced with blue. The jungle gym in the courtyard has been replaced with patio tables and umbrellas and Pastor Barry and his crew have created attractive landscaping. The grounds and buildings look better now than they did in the 1970’s. Even though the membership has changed over the years, the church still has the same familiar atmosphere.
Al and Lavon Van Selow: Lavon and I would like to congratulate you on your celebration of 40 years in your present building. As special as the building is, it does not compare with the wonderful people who comprise the congregation. We thoroughly enjoyed our eleven year together. No place can match the beauty of the land or of the people. There is no way we can express in words that totality of the very special experience of ministry in Honolulu and the love we felt for the people God sent our way. It was a real joy to watch young people fall in love and become man and wife, creating a new Christian hope. And what could be more inspiring than the baptisms at the beach, or the fun at family camp? The warmth and spirit of the multicultural church family provided a total experience of which few ministers can ever hope to be a part. The memories of the music, Maundy Thursday services “Safe Halloween” and other special services will always warm our hearts, as will the ministry with the young adult class, and the chance to work with some really great staff and leaders. Many of us shared meals and fellowship together at Pizza Hut, Dew Drop Inn, Auntie Pasta’s and the Fish Monger’s Wife. We struggled together over parking at the post office, until they surrendered and said, “Please don’t write any more letters”. First Baptist is a unique congregation which any pastor would enjoy serving. Thank you for our time together and we pray that you will support your present pastor with the love and graciousness you gave Lavon and me. Leaving at 65, we both still felt very young and vibrant because of the dynamic quality of those we were privileged to serve. God bless you all as you minister together in that very special place. We will always love you!
David Vaughn: [He came when Pastor Van Selow and Rick Ambler, youth minister, were there.] He remembers the youth activities and campus life. In the youth hale, they would paint my fingernails when I fell asleep. The rocket ship is gone. The chapel roof used to be blue. As a youngster, I used to know Ken Edwards. I would see him all over Makiki and I would see him at church. I remember his wheeled scooter. All my memories are from high school and the youth group. I was in preschool here in 1978/79. I remember dawn patrols or playing volleyball. We used to ride in the brown VW bus. I have fond memories of playing in the rocket ship out in the back, and there was a triangle playhouse.
Brad Wilcoxen: It was truly my delight to worship with my brothers and sisters at FBC, Honolulu this past Sunday. Pastor Lovett is a good man with his heart in the right place. You are a blessed people. As I mentioned when we talked, my memories as a resource will be somewhat limited since my time there was in and out as a sailor in the USN. In fact, there were many young military who attended there, but by no means a majority. The church was a wonderful mix of God’s people. My involvement was as a single young adult. FBC, at that time, had a large young adult Sunday School class led by, I believe, Bob Hamilton. I remember him being an engaging and informed Bible teacher. He had a way of drawing in the learners by asking a question and then saying to you even though you had not made any response, “That’s right, Brad. and then go on to respond as if you had actually given the answer. It was fun. FBC had a weekly ministry then aimed at connecting and discipling young adults called Positive Christian Singles, or PCS as we referred to it. We met one night each week and had regular social gatherings like meeting on a quieter beach in the evening for fellowship and song. There was always someone there with a guitar to lead us in singing “Evie” or” Maranatha” or Daniel Amos songs popular in the 1967-0’s. We would also catch the occasional Christian concert at the Blaisdell Center. I also remember there are a couple of young ladies, sisters, there the time who were very active and effective in communicating to the deaf with sign language. My time there was from 1976-78. William R. Tipton was the pastor then. He baptized me there in 1977. I still have my certificate. I remember him and Cathy both for their genuinely kind and warm hearts. I remember one off-site Lord’s Supper we shared at a local park on Sunday. What a pleasant family fellowship experience. When I was baptized, which meant joining the church, I remember being asked to visit with the church secretary in the office to fill out membership information. At that point, was given a “pledge” card which asked for my giving commitment to the annual church budget. I put down the tiny 1/10 of my actual enlisted pay and went away content. The God really begin to work on my heart since as a young single sailor all my money was truly recreational since I had no debts and knew I always had a place to eat and sleep. God used that experience to forever change my heart about giving to the Lord’s work. During my time there I gave more than my initial pledge and have since been a consistent tither and giver to the Lord through the local church. I have personally found in my life that what has become a Christian cliché is abundantly true: You cannot out-give God FBC had a staff associate pastor whose name I confess I have forgotten but was a fine beginning young minister who had a truly meaningful impact on us young people for the Lord. As I mentioned, I was there when the time capsule was placed and now think, if the Lord wills, I would very much like to return in 2016 for its opening. As I remember we put in several American Bicentennial items among the memorabilia. During those days there was ongoing reference and involvement through offerings and workdays for what was referred to then as the 1319 project. It appears it took a long time, but refurbishing work has finally accomplished. Thank you for the invitation to share and I wish for you all profound blessings and power for the Lord.
Corine Wong: Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it to the church’s anniversary celebration on Nov. 24 either. I am sorry. Thank you and your committee very much for thinking of us and inviting us. We rejoice with First Baptist Church and thank God for His goodness and for all the marvelous things He has done for and through First Baptist Church of Honolulu all through these years. We pray that the next 5, 10, 25, 50 years will be times of great blessing and accomplishment for the Lord’s kingdom in and through FBCH. Of course, we all are praying that the Lord Jesus will come soon. Meanwhile, let us pray for one another that the Lord will reveal His glory to us and throughout the world through us. Hallelujah. Amen. Ordination 1992, It was a privilege for me to be the first woman to be ordained by the American Baptist Churches in Hawaii. This took place in 1992 at the First Baptist Church of Honolulu under Pastor Alfred Van Selow. My ordination was approved on four levels, the levels of the local congregation, the State of Hawaii, the District of the Pacific Southwest and Hawaii and the national level. I am very grateful to Pastor Van Selow and the American Baptist Council of Hawaii, chaired by Bob Hamilton, and also to my good friend, Anajean Altman, a one-time member of First Baptist Church and a regular at my home Bible classes before she moved to California, who introduced me to Pastor Van Selow. At First Baptist Church of Honolulu, I served as Outreach Minister and Minister of Adult Education, and I also helped train prayer counselors. Howard may not have time to write anything about the construction of the church. He did mention that when he suggested that the sanctuary be air-conditioned, there were those who opposed – but just then there was a lot of traffic going by – and the people then realized that air conditioning was a very good idea. First Baptist was one of very few churches in Honolulu at the time to put in air conditioning. It seemed to be a very rare idea then.
Rodney Wong: [Rodney Wong read for 90th Anniversary] My life will forever be connected with this church ministry during . . . years in service I was hired for mixed-race staff. The big movies included Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Lethal Weapon 2. The World population was 5, 1156, 000,000. The price of a Sony Walkman was $79.00. The price of a Commodore 128D Computer I 1989 was $399.00. Marcia Griffin’s Electric Slide was the hottest Dance step. Sir Tim Berners-Lee created hypertext markup language (HTML) to make web pages and the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to identify where information is stored. It is the basis for our W.W.W. The AOL “Welcome” and “you’ve got Mail” sounds were recorded in 1989 on a cassette deck. Cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was at the low price of $675.00 Also, in October of 1989, I was hired by Pastor Alfred Van Selow to be his youth intern. During that time, few years later I courted and married Miki to be my wife of now 27 years, with 3 children, Elijah, Josiah, and Mikayla. The oldest will be graduating this year. Although he was the only pastor that I served under at FBCH, I came to know other pastors who have served here. I was handed a youth ministry whose impact continued until this day. David Vaughn, Eric Chang, Kendal Fong to name a few. Police were called by neighbors multiple times to investigate noise complaints. We had youth initiatives such as Bond Aid, and youth mixing with adults in church. [Rodney presented FBCH with a shofar from Cross Current Fellowship at our 90thcelebration.]