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

Mormons add new chapel in Keolu Hills

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol
Advertiser Staff Writer

Scott Whiting, president of the Kane'ohe stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, meets Bonnie Sessions in the Cultural Room of the Keolu Hills Chapel in Kailua.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Name of church: Keolu Hills Chapel

Our affiliation: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Where we are: On the corner of Keolu and Kanapu'u drives.

What's special about us: The Keolu Hills Chapel is the state's newest addition to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the fastest-growing major denominations in the United States. In Hawai'i, an average of about 100 new members join the church every month, said Scott Whiting, president of the Kane'ohe stake, who estimated that there are about 55,000 members statewide.

Our numbers: The LDS church in Hawai'i is made up of stakes, which are geographic units of the church. The Kane'ohe stake is further broken down to 11 districts, each called a ward, Whiting said.

Two wards meet in the Keolu Hills Chapel: Kailua third ward, which includes the Lanikai, Kailua town and Coconut Grove communities, gathers for services 9 a.m. to noon every Sunday. Kailua first ward, which includes the Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills and Pohakupu communities, gathers for services 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday. Every year on Jan. 1, the two wards will switch, he said. Each ward has a total of about 450 members, but only about 250 attend weekly services regularly.

Our leaders: Wards are led by a lay bishop, Whiting said. The Kailua first ward bishop is Scott Morgan, and the Kailua third ward bishop is Dean Nakamaejo, both of whom will serve for a period of five years.

Our history: The first missionaries of the church came to Hawai'i in the mid-1800s. In the late 1800s, several thousand acres of land in La'ie were purchased and established as a gathering place for members of the church. Today, the church owns about 7,000 acres of real estate in La'ie that includes Brigham Young University-Hawai'i and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The Keolu Hills Chapel property was acquired in the late-1980s. Church leaders broke ground in mid-2001 and the church was completed after about a year. The first services were held Oct. 13, an open house was held last weekend, and a dedication service this past Sunday.

What we believe: Members believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to its full extent to the earth by a prophet named Joseph Smith.

"We believe in the structure of the church being like the church was back when Jesus was on the earth, that there's a prophet, and that there are living apostles on the earth today that lead and direct the affairs of the church," Whiting said.

Besides using the Old and New testaments of the King James Version of the Bible, they follow the Book of Mormon, which Whiting called "an additional witness to Jesus Christ as is told through the historical events of the people that lived on the (North and South) American continents ... from 600 B.C. to 400 A.D."

Ordinances of the church include baptism, which isn't necessary until members reach the age of accountability at 8 years old, Whiting said, as well as confirmation, "where you are confirmed to be a member of the church and you are also at that point given the gift of the Holy Ghost." Both baptism and confirmations take place weekly.

There are also ordinances that take place strictly in the church temples. In Hawai'i, there are two such temples: one in La'ie and another in Kona.

"Ordinances performed there are the sealing ordinances (marriage) and vicarious ordinances for our dead ancestors who didn't have the opportunity while on Earth to either receive the restored Gospel or accept it," Whiting said.

What we're excited about: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members islandwide will be involved with the county's Christmas tree recycling program during the first week of January, Whiting said.

Contact: Call the Kailua first ward at 261-4328 or the Kailua third ward at 261-4960, or visit www.lds.org.

If you'd like to recommend a faith organization for the weekly feature, Where We Worship, 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.