St. Columba’s Episcopal Church was founded in 1898 through the generosity of the Theo Davies family and the Hamakua Sugar Company. Since the 1970s, it has been known as the Filipino Church on Hawai‘i Island, but after the last sugar cane on the Hamakua Coast was harvested in 1996, the mission struggled to keep its doors open.
For several years, St. Columba’s had been a Preaching Station of St. James’ Church (Kamuela/Waimea), offering a monthly Eucharist for the eight to 10 faithful remaining members.
In early 2013, the St. James' Parish asked the Rev. Tom Buechele to help the Rev. David Stout, Rector at St. James, to "replant" St. Columba's. Tom had been serving as an interim priest at Big Island churches, and felt drawn to explore the mission possibility at St. Columba's. With a deep heart for God, and a missionary spirit, Tom Buechle lead the replanting of St. Columba's with a kick-off worship service on Easter, 2013.
For nearly one year, The Rev. Tom Buechle helped breath new life into St. Columba's. The church building received much needed repairs and upgrading, and Mr. Buechle began reaching out to the local communities to revitalize the faith community along the Hamakua Coast.
In January 2014, Elizabeth Lewin, a lay leader with experience in hospital chaplaincy, agreed to offer her pastoral gifts to the congregation at St. Columba's. Members have been uplifted by her experience in healing prayer and pastoral care.
It was during this time the congregation grew and began to identify its ministry in Christian hospitality, outreach to Keiki with an after school Bible Study, healing prayer and Christian formation for those discerning a call to ordained ministry.
The Rev. Diana Akiyama served a 6-month term as Vicar-in-Charge at St. Columba's January to June, 2015. During this time, Diana supervised individuals pursuing theological training toward ordination, provided the Sacraments and continued the work of replanting a church community.
Today, St. Columba's thrives as one of three congregations of St. James' Episcopal Parish in Waimea. We believe that the mission replant efforts at St. Columba's church will continue to have a meaningful role in the lives of all who walk through our doors. Our Sunday morning worship is filled with the spirit of aloha; the diverse ethnicities and cultures along the Hamakua Coast are at the heart of our community.
We are thankful for the faithful work of those who have gone before, for the support and encouragement of the New Ministry Partnership Mission Project (The Episcopal Church), our bishop The Rt. Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick, the Diocesan Vibrant Congregations Commission, St. James' Parish, and longtime and new members.
This is an exciting time in the history of St. Columba's!
The "Replanting" of St. Columba's