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John Hoover, 79, retired ordained minister and founding pastor of Hokuloa United Church of Christ and Hokuloa's Pastor Emeritus, passed away in 2022., in his home at Uplands Village, Tennessee. Prior to serving at Hokuloa for 26 years, John was a campus minister at the University of Hawai'i Hilo for 6 years. He was a very active member in the Hawai'i Island Association as he served in various positions. John was also active in the Puako community where he served on the Puako Community Association Board of Directors, the South Kohala Community Development Plan, and the Puako Historical Society.

In 1819 the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions for the Congregational Churches (predecessor denomination of the United Church of Christ) sent its first missionaries to Hawaii. King Kamehameha II charged them “…to aim at making people of every class wise and good and happy.”  American missionary Lorenzo Lyons (1807-1886) began his ministry in Puako about 1835. His mission centered around Waimea and the Imiola Congregational Church. Rev. Lyons built 14 churches and is known for his writing of the still popular "Hawai`i Aloha."

In 1858 Lyons reported that almost all the 70 residents of Puako were members of the Hokuloa Church. A school was built first and the church was built later in 1856. The church remained active until about 1920 when most people moved out of Puako at the closing of the Puako sugar plantation and mill. Occasional services were held and the church building was maintained by the Imiola congregation from Waimea.

In the 1960s a short lived effort was made to establish an ecumenical chapel for the growing number of tourists visiting the area. In 1989, the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ, successor to the Congregational Church, made repairs to the building and established a new congregation. Rev. John Hoover, now Pastor Emeritus,  served as Organizing Pastor from then until his retirement in 2016.   

Today, Hokuloa Church serves Puako, Waikoloa and West Hawaii. Services are presently held via Zoom and at the church at 9 am HST on Sundays and reach people on the mainland and in foreign countries.  

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