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The Hawaiian Mission

[By Alfred Willis]

From Mission Life, Vol. III, Part II (New Series), London, 1872, pages 644-646.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2006


THE following letter has been received by the Bishop's Commissary. We would especially draw the attention of the friends of the Mission to the startling but most interesting financial statistics given by Bishop Willis.

"Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands,
           "July 29, 1872.

"MY DEAR SCOTT,--I hope you will lose no time in making a most earnest appeal to the friends and supporters of this Mission, and to all who may be induced to lend a helping hand, for the funds that are necessary to carry it through the present crisis. The Church of England, by sending out another Bishop, has declared her decision not to relinquish her work in these islands, and neither hand it over to another branch of the Church, nor suffer her work to be reduced to the ministration of a clergyman maintained by the foreign congregation. But if it is to continue a Mission it must have support from without. It is too sad to think of the low ebb to which our Church is sunk here. But I am sure it can be revived through grace from above, if the Church at home will only testify her dependence on Divine grace by giving liberally in aid of this revival. God will help those who help themselves.

"Now, first of all, the Mission is burdened with debts; till these are paid, we cannot expect the Divine blessing. The rent of the property at Lahaina has not been paid for two years--$400 (£80) with interest. The [644/645] property, besides, is going to ruin. There is a debt on the premises at Wailuku of at least $300 (£60). There are arrears of stipend due to Archdeacon Mason amounting to £175, which it rests with the S.P.G. and the London Committee to explain, but which must be paid at once to save the Church of England from the charge of injustice to one of her most faithful Missionaries--the one man who has spent and been spent in upholding this Mission. An income of £300 per annum was guaranteed him by the late Bishop, which is exceedingly moderate for a man with a family, being only equivalent to £200 in England. Nether his journey to London, undertaken at the express desire of his Majesty, who feared the Mission would be extinguished on the Bishop's resignation, nor his removal from Lahaina to Honolulu, could justify the withdrawal of this income, whilst there were funds from which other members of the Mission, who were doing far less Missionary work, continued to draw as before. Archdeacon has saved the Mission. His school is doing for the Hawaiian boys what the sisterhoods are doing for the girls. All hope for the future rests on these schools: take them away and no foundation could remain. Mason's school has gone on without intermission. Instead of being a source of income it barely pays its expenses. When he came to England at the king's desire, he paid an assistant to carry on his school, so that I am bound in common justice to make up to him all arrears of the stipend assured to him by my predecessor. The payment of these debts will nearly exhaust my special funds before I can begin the work of restoration.

"A great deal has been said about the extravagance of this Mission in former days. It may have been so, but I do want friends in England to know that Honolulu is a most expensive place. I cannot get a house, with less accommodation than an ordinary English parsonage, under £120 per annum. A cook is not to be had under £50 per annum and his keep. Meat is cheap, and after the rent and cook are paid, living is probably about the same as in England--but no cheaper. But building and repairs are enormous. Mechanics will not work under $4_ (18s.) per diem. Horses are cheap enough, but hay is about £7 per ton, so that it is not cheap to keep them unless you have land. It is a great mistake that land was not secured here years ago. A house with good grounds which ten years ago was sold for $2,000 (£400) the present owner will not sell for $5,000 (£1,000). I have been asked to-day if I will give $9,500 for a house which the owner, I am told, purchased two years ago for $5,100. If I only had £500 in the special fund, I should enlarge the clergy house on the cathedral site, which would be an immense saving of expense in rent, which I have shown you is so high.

"Whilst on this point of expense, I wish to correct an error I made in many of my addresses in England. I stated that I hoped the clergy would be able to support themselves mainly by their schools, and would [645/646] require only a small supplementary stipend from the funds of the Mission. In this I was quite mistaken. A school for foreign boys, like Mr. Atkinson's at St. Alban's College, ought to, and does, provide an income for the master. But when you come to boarding-schools for the native boys, which is the great work we have to do, if they can be made to pay their own expenses, it is as much as they will do. In fact, we ought to be able to take in promising boys free, or at a low charge if we can get them. The Mission has been founded for the sake of the Hawaiian race, not for the foreigners. I can depend on the foreigners for subscribing sufficient to provide for their own wants, for people here are decidedly liberal. But it is on the mother Church we must depend for aid, if we are to do the work for which the Church responded to the call of Kamehameha IV. The present king is most interested in the Mission, and will help forward any scheme for the education of his people. He is anxious to see them fill positions of trust which are now occupied by foreigners. I am sorry to say his Majesty has been very unwell, so that I have only had one interview with him. His chamberlain had to do the honours of royalty at a dinner which the king gave at Iolani Palace to welcome the Bishop.

"Nothing is really in order yet. Williamson, who has hitherto been minister of the foreign congregation, leaves by this steamer. I have begun daily service in the cathedral. Matins at 6.30, in English, which the sisters and their boarders attend. Evensong, in Hawaiian, at 4. We have Celebrations every Thursday and every Saint's day, Black-letter days included, at 6.30. On these days, Matins is at 6 a.m. The early mornings are delightfully cool; but by seven it is very hot. During the last month the thermometer has been at from 88º to 90º (in the shade) during the day. On Sundays there is a Celebration at 6.30. Matins and Sermon, in Hawaiian, at 9.15. English Service at 11. Evensong, in Hawaiian, at 4. English Evensong and Sermon at 7.30. On Wednesdays there is an English Evening Service at 7.30 p.m.

"I start this afternoon for Maui. Hitherto there has been a taboo on all inter-insular travel, in consequence of the small-pox in Honolulu. It was taken off yesterday. The Rev. G. Whipple came here from Maui for Sunday, and will be my pilot. To-morrow we shall be at Ulupalakua, thence ride to Wailuku, and so to Lahaina. Next week I hope to go on to Kona or Hawaii. So by the next mail I may be able to give you some fuller information--Affectionately yours,


All communications and offers of help should be sent to the Bishop's Commissary, the Rev. W. Scott, New Brompton, Chatham.

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