Beacon Street Diary blog

The Morning Star and the Marshall Islands

It is almost impossible to find the beginning of the story of the Congregational Church of the Marshall Islands.

We could start with the faith of Hawaii. In less than thirty years after the first missionary's first sermon the people of this island nation were ready to send missionaries forth from their own flock. A beginning date could be the formation of the Hawaiian Missionary Society and their partnership with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Clearly the story of the Morning Star can claim that first place position in the history of this great church. She was so much more than a ship. The very name conjured up images of adventure, faith and commitment. Built with the support of the children and young people of the Congregational Church, her name alone kept the enthusiasm for foreign missions alive in that fellowship for generations.

The first group of missionaries sailed to Micronesia in the Caroline in 1852. The years that followed saw small and uncomfortable ships charted to take the missionaries to the islands. The story was known of the ship John Williams, a missionary ship built by the children of England. One Titus Coan suggested that the children of the United States could do likewise. The name first suggested was the Day Star. Shares in this new vessel were to be sold at ten cents a share. In August 1856 the American Board made its first appeal. Support poured in; one Sunday school in Hawaii took out 300 shares. On November 12, 1856 the Morning Star was launched, and on December 2, 1856 she sailed from Boston, Massachusetts. The Morning Star arrived at Honolulu on April 24th. On April 29th, a service of "Order of Exercises at the Presentation of a Signal Flag to the Morning Star" took place. Addresses were given in Hawaiian and English. The Honorable John Ii gave an address in Hawaiian and one was given in English by Rev. S. C. Damon. Songs were sung in both languages. Prayers were given in Hawaiian by Rev. L. Smith, and the presentation was made by Rev. R. Armstrong. The benediction was given by Rev. E. W. Clark. In view of thousands the new flag was hoisted by Captain Moore, and the story of the hundred and fifty years of the Congregational Church of the Marshall Islands begins.

-C. Ronald Wilson