Life and Legacy of Rev. Henry Parker

In 1834, the Parker family had been originally sent to Marquesas Islands from Massachusetts as missionaries, but they decided to come to Kaneohe Hawaii because they faced many dangers and hostile attitudes of the natives at the Marquesas Islands. The family was well received by a woman in high position named Kuini Liliha who had served the Kingdom of Hawaii as a royal governor of Oahu. 

Having good relationship with royal family, Rev. Benjamin Parker (father of Henry Parker) was granted land at Ahuimanu from King Kamehameha III to establish the first Christian School. So they started a school for little children and soon later, established other schools within the Kaneohe district.

Henry Parker had seen what his father had done for God’s people in Hawaii and decided to follow the footsteps of his father, continuing the legacy and ministry of Rev. Ben Parker. In order to be a Christian minister, he could have gone back to Massachusetts for seminary education, but he decided to stay in Hawaii pursuing his education both in Hawaiian language as well as English. Therefore, he was fluent in both Hawaiian and English.

After he was ordained as a minister, he had served as a pastor of Kawaiahao Church for 54 years. When he served the church, he had church members including King Kamehameha IV and V, King Lunalilo, Queen Liliuokalani, and King Kalakaua, the last king of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Rev. Henry Parker was described as an eloquent preacher, both in English and Hawaiian, and he became a respected minister by everyone who knew him including the Hawaiian royal families. 

After he retired, he decided to move back to his home town – Kaneohe – where he had some land that had been deeded to him by Kamehameha IV in 1859. In 1925, he deeded part of the land back to the state to build a public school in Kaneohe, and it was named “Benjamin Parker School” in honor of his father.   

Rev. Henry Parker passed away on September 7, 1927 which was only 3 weeks before Rev. Goto’s family arrived in Kaneohe.  Their only connection was that Rev. Goto rented a church that was on the property that belonged to Rev. Henry Parker when Rev. Goto first started his church in Kaneohe. Later, when Rev. Goto learned that the land the church was renting was out for sale, by God’s grace, Rev. Goto and the starting members of his church were able to buy the land from the Parker family. Later, when they planned to build a sanctuary, Henry Parker’s nieces made a generous donation to church, which was a total of $9,500 when they heard that the church would be named after their uncle, Rev. Henry Parker. As a result of this donation, Rev. Goto was able to build a church and named it as “Henry H. Parker Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church” in 1929.