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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Small church enjoys family feeling

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Staff Writer

Pastor Lon Ekdahl recites Mass at Kaneohe Church of the Nazarene, a denomination with 21 churches on O'ahu.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

• Name of church: Kaneohe Church of the Nazarene.

• Our denomination: Church of the Nazarene.

• Where we are: The corner of Pua'ae Road and Mokulele Drive, Kane'ohe.

• Our numbers: Sunday morning services have 200 worshippers. In Hawai'i the denomination numbers about 2,500.

• Our pastor: The Rev. Lon Ekdahl.

• What we believe: "We're a conservative evangelical church," Ekdahl said. "We believe in the fundamental doctrines of the Bible and we emphasize living a spirit-filled life."

In daily life, that means living as Christ would live, showing love, compassion and patience, he said.

Guidelines have been developed for a spirit-filled life that help church members stay away from "things that detract from our Christian witness," such as alcohol and tobacco. Members believe everyone has a conscience and must respond to those things that are right and wrong, he said, by living a right kind of life.

"We don't emphasize the do's and don'ts," he said, "which can be different for different people."

• Our history: The denomination has been in Hawai'i since the mid-1950s, and the Kane'ohe location was built in 1957.

There are 21 churches on O'ahu, with many ethnic groups represented.

Three local churches have elementary schools. At the Kaneohe Church of the Nazarene, the school is called Windward Nazarene Academy.

• What we're excited about: "Expanding our Kane'ohe facilities to create more opportunities for church and school," Ekdahl said.

The church is planning to build a new office and indoor gymnasium during the next few years. Phase 1 of the project, the office, is scheduled to start in a few months, though "it all depends on dollars," he said.

Liturgically, the next big focus is Easter, he said.

• What's special about us: Church of Nazarene is a smaller denomination, Ekdahl said, which benefits his church in particular.

"We have a tremendous family atmosphere," he said. "Our church is a cross-section culturally. It's neat to see the interaction that takes place. It's the friendliest church, with a warm family feeling."

The Church of the Nazarene is known as a "holiness denomination," meaning it focuses on the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

The denomination was founded in 1908 when a number of churches broke off from others, mostly the Methodists, to focus on more conservative issues, Ekdahl said.

"Some people call (us) 'souped-up Methodists,' " he said with a laugh, adding that while they might be similar, they tend to be more conservative.

The denomination always has had a strong mission emphasis, with missions in 140 areas worldwide.

• Contact: 235-8787.

If you would like to recommend a faith organization for a Where We Worship profile, e-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com, call 525-8035 or write to Where We Worship, Faith Page, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.