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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

Hawaiian chant, drama, dance come together in church by sea

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Faith Editor

The Rev. Doug Olson, also known as "Kahu Doug," retired Tuesday as pastor of Calvary-by-the-Sea after 34 years of service to the 'Aina Haina church. However, the eclectic congregation he presided over remains vibrant.

Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser

Name of church: Calvary-by-the-Sea.

Our denomination: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Where we are: 5339 Kalaniana'ole Highway, in 'Aina Haina.

Our numbers: Average attendance of about 390 each Sunday.

Our pastor: The Rev. Doug Olson retired Tuesday as pastor emeritus after 34 years; the Rev. Russell Cryedt will act as interim pastor until a full-time senior pastor is selected, or "called," as Lutherans say.

What's special about us: This is the largest Lutheran church in the state.

The average age of its members is 27, making Calvary-by-the-Sea's congregation a relatively young one. With that comes a vibrant worship style, Olson said, noting that their famed "Clown Sunday," while now on hiatus, had become a popular tradition. They incorporate drama, dance, liturgical dance, sacred dance and Hawaiian chant into their worship.

But all that comes with a time commitment.

"Don't come if you want to come for just an hour," Olson said. "If we want to sing a couple of extra songs, we'll do it."

With Hawaiian-style music, often sung by the original composers at the second service on Sunday, worship can run as long as two hours, he said, but no one complains if a member needs to pop out.

"Get up and go!" he tells them. "Just don't complain (about the length of the service)."

Another special ministry is Angel Network, created by the late Ivy Olson, one of former President George Bush's "Thousand Points of Light." As Olson's wife, she started a ministry for the homeless, and some who left the streets through the program now are members in their congregation, he said.

With singles, single-parent families, Hawaiians, Samoans and Japanese, theirs is a cross-section of Hawai'i, or as Olson puts it, "it's something else."

What we believe: Members follow Lutheran beliefs. Here, lay participation is valued highly, Olson said.

"Everybody is a priest," he said. "That's a key factor to understanding this congregation."

The pastor preaches, he said, but lay people handle many of the church duties, with volunteers often giving eight hours a week to church service.

As Lutherans, members also consider the Bible to be the inspired word of God. The church's most recent Bethel Bible Series attracted 35 people for a three-year study program.

Their congregation is culturally diverse, said Olson, more often known as "Kahu Doug." The former Leeward Community College teacher said he intends at some point to return to teaching as pastor emeritus.

With the motto "Blessed to be a blessing," the mission statement is:

    "... Committed to transforming individuals and to serving all people through Jesus Christ. Calvary-by-the-Sea is a community of transforming individuals, unified in Christ, inspired by the Gospel, and living in the world as a base camp of lovers and healers. The spirit of this Biblically based community is inclusive, embracing the global community and especially those without a church home."

Our history: The Rev. Stanley Gjervik established Calvary-by-the-Sea in 1954 with about 25-40 people who met in the old Ranch House restaurant off West Hind Drive.

A church building was built in the late 1950s, and the Rev. Jim Bergquist took over. By the time Olson arrived in 1968, the average attendance had fallen to about 30 people, but grew steadily in the ensuing years.

In 1980, a new sanctuary by the ocean was built — and paid for, Olson is proud to say.

"(We also) paid off the existing mortgage," he said, "and the congregation has been debt-free since 1980."

What we're excited about: With the change of the guard, Olson expects more lay leaders will be taking a greater roles in the church. The official welcome for the interim pastor is expected to occur sometime at the end of this month.

Contact: pixi.com/~cbts or 377-5477.

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: Where We Worship, Faith Page, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.