LOVING GOD and SERVING PEOPLE in the FACE of INCREDIBLE LOSS – Proper 26, October 30, 2022

Preacher:  Rev. Stephen McPeek

We remember today, the faith, vision and generosity of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma which gave rise to the Anglican Church in Hawai’i.

Within a year of ascending the throne in 1855, the twenty-year-old King Kamehameha IV and his bride, Queen Emma, embarked on the path of altruism and unassuming humility for which they have always been revered by their people. The year before, Honolulu, and especially its indigenous Hawaiian population, had been horribly decimated by smallpox. The people, accustomed to a royalty which ruled with strict protocol, pomp, and power, were confronted instead by a king and queen who went about, “with notebook in hand,” soliciting from as many of their subjects as they could, both the rich and poor, the funds to build a hospital. Queen’s Hospital, named for Queen Emma, has grown to become the largest medical and healthcare facility in Hawai’i with a statewide array of programs and services. In 1860, the King and Queen petitioned the Bishop of Oxford to send missionaries to establish the Anglican Church in Hawai’i. The King’s interest came through a boyhood tour of England where he had seen, in the stately beauty of Anglican liturgy, a quality that seemed attuned to the gentle beauty of the Hawaiian spirit. England responded by sending the Rt. Rev. Thomas N. Staley and two priests. They arrived on October 11, 1862, and the King and Queen were confirmed a month later, on November 28, 1862. They then began preparations for a cathedral and school, and the king set about to translate the Book of Common Prayer and much of the Hymnal. Kamehameha’s life was marred by the tragic death of his four-yearold son and only child, Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli a Kamehameha (Godson of Queen Victoria), in 1863. He seemed unable to survive his sadness, although a sermon he preached after his son’s death expresses a hope and faith that is eloquent, profound and deeply moving. His own death took place only a year after his son’s, in 1864. Queen Emma committed the rest of her life to good works. She was responsible for schools, churches, and efforts on behalf of the poor and sick. She traveled several times to England and the Continent to raise funds, and became a favorite of Queen Victoria’s. Archbishop Longley of Canterbury, remarked upon her visit to Lambeth: “I was much struck by the cultivation of her mind. . . But what excited my interest most was her almost saintly piety.” 

The Cathedral was completed after Queen Emma died. It was named St. Andrew’s in memory of the King, who died on that Saint’s Day (November 30th). Among the People of Hawai’i, especially native Hawaiians, Emma is still referred to as “our Beloved Queen.”