Lecture Series Discusses The Trouble With Churches

Churches, temples and other religious structures, University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Historic Preservation Program director Dr. Bill Chapman explains, are crucial fixtures within communities. But the well-being of today’s religious buildings are faced with various threats.

It’s that topic that Chapman has selected to address in the latest Experts lecture series, which is produced as a partnership among the Historic Preservation Program, Historic Hawaii Foundation and The Friends of Iolani Palace. Experts is an annual series that features various topics, and this year’s session kicks off Jan. 28.

Chapman explains that places of worship have a number of challenges related to their preservation.

“A lot of churches face diminishing congregations,” Chapman says. “And the cost of keeping these places up gets higher and higher.”

Other times, churches may put their funds toward community causes, leaving nothing for their own repairs or restoration.

For Chapman, it’s a topic of personal interest — early in his career, he wrote a book about churches — but it’s also one that he feels is relevant to the community as a whole. He describes religious structures as “the backdrops to our lives,” a concept that he sees as having a couple of different meanings.

First, he means that literally — in some communities, religious structures often are highly visible and have become landmarks.

“The next thing,” he continues, “is that they often are the site of a lot of major milestones in people’s lives.” Baptisms, weddings, funerals — those all traditionally take place inside churches.

“They kind of mark these major transitions in people’s lives,” he says.

Chapman admits that as a preservationist, people sometimes ask him what is the value in maintaining historic places. His answer is simple: Replacing structures that have historical significance causes communities to “lose touch with your past and your sense of place.”

“I see preservation as a kind of legacy, and we’re stewards for preserving the things of the past,” Chapman says. “Preservation is about trying to preserve the things that are unique to a place. I think all these pieces come together to create this kind of richness and layered history that is really what Hawaii is about.”

The series launches Jan. 28 with a talk on stained glass by James Erickson and Glenn Mason, and continues every Thursday through March. 10. Other topics include the politics involved in church conservation, as well as highlighting the needs of various local churches. Each session runs from noon to 1 p.m. at Cathedral of St. Andrew in the Von Holt Room.



Roving farm-to-table dining event Outstanding in the Field returns to the islands Jan. 23, when it will host a meal in partnership with guest chef The Pig and The Lady’s Andrew Le at Kualoa Ranch.

Outstanding in the Field returns to Kualoa Ranch Jan. 23 ILANA FREDDYE PHOTO

Outstanding in the Field returns to Kualoa Ranch Jan. 23

The first Outstanding in the Field took place in Santa Cruz in 1999, launched by chef/artist Jim Denevan. Since then, Denevan and his crew have been driving cross-country to hold events at various sites — beaches, forest, barns — throughout the country. In more recent years, they’ve expanded their reach internationally as well. They’ve been returning to Hawaii annually since 2012 and also hold events on the outer islands.

For each site, Outstanding in the Field partners with a local chef and farmer, with all ingredients sourced locally.

“Kualoa Ranch is one of the most beautiful sites ever,” says Denevan. “We’re excited to return and even more excited to work with chef Andrew Le. Chef Le is a fellow pop-up legend, and we’re looking forward to an incredible collaboration.”

Outstanding in the Field at Kualoa Ranch begins at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $195 and will be available until the day before the event.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit outstandinginthefield.com.