Festivities have begun for the bicentennial celebration of the arrival of Christian missionaries to Hawaiʻi. Events will stretch from October 2019 to December 2020, including multiple services on neighbor islands and at the historic Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu.
On October 15th, representatives from Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) had the opportunity to present a copy of our completed Baibala Hemolele to the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. for their permanent collection. This Baibala is the first complete, fully bilingual and diacritically-marked Hawaiian Bible. They also presented the original 1839 “Clark” Bible for a temporary exhibition.
The presentation included a dramatic one-person play, “My Name is ʻŌpūkahaʻia” by Hawaiian actor Moses Goods. Henry ʻŌpūkahaʻia was one of Hawaiʻi’s most influential historical figures who helped form the mission to the Islands that would bring Christianity and the Bible to Hawaiʻi in 1820. Further performances of the play were held across New England as part of “Hawaiʻi Week in New England.”
Kaulana Park, a PIDF Board Member and attendee of the D.C. presentation, gave a short message about the importance of the Baibala to Hawaiians. He explained that ʻŌpūkahaʻia knew education – especially literacy – was a key component to make the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi competitive. The Bible was used as the primary means for Hawaiian families to become literate. By 1834, the population in Hawaiʻi was 95% literate!
In Boston, a large contingent from Hawai’i helped to commemorate the start of the mission from Park Street Church. Helen Kaowili, the Baibala Hemolele Project Director, led a workshop teaching more about the translation efforts.
Baibala Hemolele began in 2002 as a way to electronically preserve the original editions of the Hawaiian Bible and make them available to the public in a digital format. The project has since broadened into an entire rewriting and re-publishing of Baibala Hemolele.
The latest development with the project has been the long-awaited publishing of the first fully bilingual Hawaiian-English Bible in 2018. That Baibala, along with other editions, is currently on sale at the Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) main office in Honolulu.
For more information on the upcoming bicentennial celebrations here in Hawaiʻi nei, visit the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives website here.