Pioneers in the Pacific
While pastoring in Quincy, Massachusetts, the General Council Missionary Director, Noel Perkin, requested for Rev. and Mrs. Eldon Vincent to go to Honolulu to pioneer a church. A few days after arriving, the Vincents were introduced to Brother and Sister Woodrow Yasuhara, who were at that time attending a Holiness Church.
On February 23, 1947, the first service was held in the old Lincoln School auditorium across from Thomas Square. Eventually, an empty lot at the corner of Lunalilo Street and Victoria Street was purchased. Services were held in the open air under a canopy on the front lawn of the lot.
A businessman (at the time), Mr. Frank Fasi, was donating ten 20’ x 52’ quonset huts to worthy organizations. The Vincents applied and received one, moving it onto the property in April, 1948. For the next few months, services were held in the small quonset. Then in June, it became necessary to move into the church building even though it was not completed.
The first Island-wide Convention on the Assemblies of God in Hawai‘i was held at Honolulu’s First Assembly of God in May, 1950, at which time the new church building was dedicated on Sunday afternoon, May 21, with Brother Noel Perkin as speaker.
During Pastor Sturgeon’s tenure, there was a need for dressing up the old church building. The congregation worked together, cleaning out the basement and re-decorating the main auditorium.
The building program of the high-rise apartment on the rear of the church property was a much-planned program, which was finally accomplished by a miracle. The members of the church who had so faithfully supported the Lord’s program over the years were given the first opportunity and priority in price to purchase these apartments, which was quickly taken advantage of.
The Sassers arrived in Honolulu to take up the pastorate in February of 1973. Responding to an invitation to come and pastor First Assembly of God found them immediately involved in the building of a high-rise condominium and increased parking facilities adjacent to the church property. Renovation of the church and the building of additional educational facilities were also accomplished during the four years of Pastor Sasser’s tenure.
The church grew in spirit and in number during this time, and with extended hands, opened their doors for the Samoan and Korean community to hold services. The Golden Fellowship ministry was formed under the direction of Pastor Henry Kahalehili. Daily radio programs on KAIM with Pastor Sasser blessed the community with good teaching from the Word of God.
Growth and Expansion
In September of 1976, Dr. and Mrs. Roy G. Sapp were elected to pastor First Assembly of God. Pastor Sapp reorganized the Aloha Kindergarten into the Aloha Day Care and Pre-School, which in turn became the forerunner of Christian Academy, formed in 1980.
1977 was a year of ministry expansion. The third floor of the main building was remodeled to provide classroom space for the adult Sunday School, which was revamped and called, School for Christian Growth, under the direction of Pastor James Morocco (now pastor of King’s Cathedral and Chapels).
Spurred by rapid growth, Pastor Sapp sought God for a way to minister more effectively to the congregation. In 1979, the first home Bible study groups were formed so that the people would be ministered to in a small-group environment. This was the beginning of our small group ministry.
Under Pastor Sapp the congregation grew considerably, reaching nearly 2,500 members, with five services held every Sunday. Ministries continued to grow to reach the various age levels and needs of the people. ACTS XXIX was founded as a Discipleship Training Center under the direction of Pastor Doug Gugudan. The Music Department continued to grow and impact the community with the production of “The Witness” and “The Singing Christmas Tree.”
It was soon apparent that the church had once more outgrown its facilities. After considerable prayer and intercession, God directed the church to relocate to Red Hill, where the church presently resides. To purchase the Red Hill property, the Lunalilo Street property and a residential property on Thurston Avenue owned by the church were sold. The congregation pledged and gave sacrificially in finances, time, and labor towards the purchase of the new site and the construction of the new church facility.
In October 1990, though the facilities were not fully completed, First Assembly of God moved to its new home at 3400 Moanalua Road on Red Hill. A multipurpose building was constructed that is now home to the church’s main campus, offices, and Christian Academy school.
A Vision for Missions
In 1994, Pastor Sapp retired and Pastor Klayton Ko was elected as the new senior pastor. Encouraged by his mentors (Pastor Sapp and Pastor Rick Seaward of VFC Singapore), Pastor Ko transitioned First Assembly of God from a missions-supporting church to a missions-sending church.
Pastor Hock-Lin Chua, who served under Pastor Seaward in Singapore, joined First Assembly of God’s pastoral staff in 1998 to provide training and lay the foundation for a new church-planting program. Within a year, the first Gideonite mission team was sent to Mbale, Uganda. Over the next four years, Pastor Chua helped plant new churches and mentored a successor, Pastor Ernest Chow. As of 2019, under the leadership of Pastor Ko and Pastor Chow, the Missions department has launched 75 missionaries and planted 15 churches around the world.
In addition to missions, Pastor Ko also had a vision to see First Assembly of God become “One Church In Six Locations.” In 1999, First Assembly of God established its first regional center in Kahalu‘u, expanding the church’s local reach to include neighborhoods on the Windward side of O‘ahu. Over the next fourteen years, four more regional centers would be established in Wahiawa, Makakilo, Hawaii Kai and downtown Honolulu.
First Assembly of God’s history has been marked by faithful men and women who have said “yes” to God’s calling. Today, we continue to be committed to carrying the light of the Gospel to the world around us—from here in Hawai‘i to every corner of the earth.