The vision of First Southern Baptist Church started with Mrs. Milton Westover, the wife of an Air Force Chaplain. She prayed that the Lord would provide a church to reach her neighborhood. There wasn’t a church nearby for young families. She was persistent and first shared her vision with the Hawaii Baptist leadership, then with her pastor at Kalihi Baptist, and finally with Malcolm Stuart. Malcolm Stuart assured her that he would join her in prayer about this vision.
Malcolm Stuart thought and prayed over this vision with a group of ten people in September 1957. On October 13th 1957, Pearl Harbor Southern Baptist Church officially began with 45 charter members. By January 1958, 7 deacons were elected. In July 1958, the church changed its name from “Pearl Harbor Southern Baptist” to “First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor”.
With the help of a Navy Chaplin, an agreement with the Navy was reached in September 1958 to lease three acres. Pastor Stuart was able to acquire a well-known architect in Houston, Ralph Buffington, to design the building we have today. Mr. Buffington donated his design to the church as a gift. On October 25, 1960, ground was broken for the new building. The members pitched in to build the church building, using holidays, weekends, vacations, every spare minute. Huge rocks for the building were taken from the hills of Aina Haina.
On the first Sunday of January 1962, the congregation moved into its new church sanctuary, though it wasn’t fully finished. The windows weren’t fully installed yet, but everyone was joyful. By the end of 1962, a total of $425,000 had been spent on the building and grounds, excluding thousands of hours of labor by the church members. The money came from the Hawaii Baptist Convention and a grant from the Foreign Mission Board.
After Malcolm Stuart left in 1963, a number of pastors followed in his foot steps serving our church over the next 50+ years. In June of 2021 our current pastor, James Mahan, stepped up to continue the ministry of First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor.