First Anglican Service in Hawai‘i

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Sunday, October 20

The Church of England was invited to the Hawaiian Islands by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, and the first Anglican service in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was on October 12, 1862. During the same year, the Sovereigns were baptized on October 21. Each year on the Sunday between these two dates, we commemorate the First Anglican Service in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i at the Sunday masses.


King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma were responsible for bringing the Anglican Church to Hawai'i. This invitation culminated in the consecration of Thomas Nettleship Staley at Lambeth Palace on December 15, 1861 as Bishop of the Missionary Diocese of Honolulu. Initially the church was called the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church but the name would change in 1870 to the Anglican Church in Hawai'i.

The first services of the church were held on October 12, 1862, amidst a time of mourning for the young Prince of Hawai`i, the only son of the King and Queen who died shortly before the arrival of the Bishop. The arrival of the Bishop had been long anticipated and prepared for by the King, who had translated much of the Book of Common Prayer into the Hawaiian language and had written a Preface explaining this new Anglican Christianity to his people.

The King and Queen gave land, part of their royal garden, on which the Cathedral was to be built. While planning and fund-raising began, a small Pro-Cathedral was constructed of wood; this would remain in use for more than twenty years, the time it would take for the first phase of the cathedral to reach completion. The untimely death of King Kamehameha IV on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, 1863, led his brother, King Kamehameha V, to dedicate the cathedral to St. Andrew as a fitting memorial to a King.

The Queen proceeded on her own to lead the project; she traveled to England to raise money, to commission architects, and to purchase stone from Caen in Normandy, which was shipped to Hawai`i as ballast in sailing ships. The first twenty years were a struggle for money, men, and materials, but with the aid of staunch supporters, the first phase of the Cathedral was completed in time for Christmas 1886, in great part because of the support for the Queen’s vision of the Cathedral as a memorial to her husband. Queen Emma did not live to worship in the Cathedral. She had died the previous year on St. Mark’s Day 1885.

The King and Queen dedicated their marriage to serving the health, educational, and spiritual needs of their people. To these ends they founded The Queen’s Hospital (now The Queen’s Medical Center), several schools, including The St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls (now The St. Andrew’s Schools, with separate programs for boys and girls) and St. Alban’s School (now ‘Iolani School), and were instrumental in bringing the Anglican church to the islands to provide access to a form of Christian spirituality that the King felt was eminently suited to the character and temperament of his people. In recognition and commemoration of these deeds the Episcopal Church of the United States honors King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma throughout the church on November 28, the anniversary of their Confirmation in 1862.

The Cross and Kahili of the Holy Sovereigns at St. Mark's


Worship & Music Highlights