Etawi: Christian Endeavor Kosrae

Early Church History prior to establishment of Christian Endeavor

On 22 August 1852, Reverend Benjamin Galen Snow (1817-1880) and his wife Lydia Vose Buck Snow (1820-1887) arrived with a Hawaiian couple, Daniel Opunui and his wife Doreka, on the schooner Caroline.

By December, 1852, Reverend Snow began the first formal church services. Reverend Snow was initially assisted by the friendliness of Awane Lepalik I, good "King George", who passed away in 1854.

Daniel Opunui passed away on Kosrae prior to 1858.

The progress of the mission was then hampered by the unfriendliness of subsequent kings and the rapid decline of the population. Influenza took the lives of 113 people out of a population of 1106 in 1855. By October 1856 the population had fallen to 950 people.

Caroline (Carrie) Snow was oldest child of Reverend Benjamin and Lydia Snow. She was born December 22nd, 1856, in the Caroline Islands, probably on Kosrae. Fred Galen Snow was born March 9th, 1858, as the youngest child of Reverend Benjamin and Lydia Snow; he was probably born on Kosrae. Fred Galen Snow married Mary Rebecca Hitchcock, daughter of Judge Edurn Griffin Hitchcock and Mary Tenny Castle Hitchcock, in Hilo, Hawaii. Fred was captain of the Morning Star; he also had a plantation in Hawaii, where he raised pineapples, sugar, coffee and cattle.

In 1858 Reverend Snow ordered that adulterers publicly confess at the mission.

By 1859 the population had fallen to 748. Despite his efforts, Reverend Snow noted in 1860 that there had not been much progress in morals and in growth of the faith.

In 1862 the church had 100 hearers and 20 members, Reverend Snow left to work in the Marshall Islands, returning to Kosrae for annual visits. In 1864 missionaries returned to Kosrae, marking the beginning of period of growth for the church with 50 new converts. By 1867 there were 197 members and two stone chapels, although the Kosraen population continued to collapse. By 1868 the population had fallen to 600. At this point ten titles had lapsed and the traditional systems of Kosrae went into collapse.

In 1871 Likiaksa Benjamin was ordained the second pastor of Kosrae, with his wife Tulpe Pisin becoming the second nipasta. The population continued to decline, with 237 males and 160 females for a population of 397 in 1874.

In 1877 Reverend Snow suffered a stroke and returned to Brewer, Maine. On March 15, 1880 Reverend Snow passed away in Brewer.

In 1879 Dr. E.M. Pease and Mrs. Whitney began a training school for Gilbertese girls at Mwot. Later, a second school for Marshallese girls was added at Mwot. A third school, for Marshallese boys, was also established at Mwot.

By 1880 the population of Kosraens was reported to have fallen below 200 (Walter Scott Wilson, Outline of Kusaien History). From 1888 to 1893 the missionary Alice C. Little was on Kosrae, and from 1890 to 1914 Jessie C. Hoppin was on Kosrae. By 1898 only two or three Kosraens were in the Mwot school.

On February 2, 1881, Dr. Francis Clark of Portland, Maine developed Christian Endeavor for American youth between the ages of 18 and 35 at the Willington Congregational Church. Dr. Clark was a member of the Willington Congregational Church.

In 1900 there was a religious revival and about half the population joined the church by the end of the revival.

Christian Endeavor Kosrae Established

In 1901 the American missionary Dr. Edmond F. Rife came to Kosrae from the Willington Congregational church in Maine, the same church at which Dr. Clark had established the youth Christian endeavor. On February 02, 1902, Dr. Edmond F. Rife founded Kosrae Christian Endeavor with Alik Kefwas as the first president. This date was the anniversary of date of the founding of Christian Endeavor in the United States on February 02, 1881.

Dr. Rife was a member of the staff of the Mwot Mission School during the German administration. During this time he established the Christian Endeavor for the youth of this area. Within this period, seeing how helpful this was for the Kosraen youth, he encouraged the church leaders to expand the Christian Endeavor to all of the villages on Kosrae.

During this time the Christian Endeavor fellowship was transfered to Lelu. All of the Christian Endeavor members throughout Kosrae would meet every Sunday afternoon in Lelu for Christian Endeavor fellowship. The membership rapidly increased during this time.

The increase in membership began to make the weekly journey each Sunday to and from Lelu increasingly difficult. In 1904 the entire membership decided that it would be better for each village to hold their own Christian Endeavor service or program.

After reaching this decision, Malem and Utwe were found to have not enough membership for separate services. Malem and Utwe decided to meet together in Utwe to hold their Etawi service every Sunday afternoon. Lelu and Tafunsak also chose to meet together in Lelu every Sunday afternoon for Etawi service.

In 1905 the Kosrae church became independent and the Etawi services each officially separated, with each church now holding their own Etawi and fellowship program. From its 1902 inception to 1954 there were no age limitations for Christian Endeavor service.

There also was no Youth Christian Endeavor at this time. In 1954 the leaders of the Kosraen Church, including Pastors, Deacons, and Layministers, gathered for a conference. Those attending the conference decided that each church on Kosrae should start a Youth Christian Endeavor.

The discussion at the conference was prolonged and there were many issues to be resolved. Fortunately, two or three weeks after the conference, the Church of Tafunsak was granted consent to have their young people form their own Youth Christian Endeavor.

At this time women participated enthusiastically to promote peace and unity among themselves.

Although the concept of a Youth Christian Endeavor was endorsed by the conference of 1954 for the whole island of Kosrae, only Tafunsak went ahead and formed a Youth Christian Endeavor. The age bracket for Youth Christian Endeavor, or Etawi Fusr, was set to be 16 to 35 years old. The Youth Christian Endeavor fellowship service was completely separated from the Adult Christian Endeavor.

By 1958 all the churches on Kosrae had their own Youth Christian Endeavor, with each church continuing to hold fellowship services up until the present.

Currently there are three levels of Kosrae Christian Endeavor:

These three levels hold their own Etawi service every Sunday afternoon, each in a separate service.

Currently the population of Kosrae is spread across the island in four municipalities. Each community has its own church and Etawi at the three different levels. Each Etawi function and conducts it own activities independent of each other. However, each Etawi tries to be as uniform with each other Etawi as much as possible.


Summary Report on the Development of Christian Endeavor in Kosrae, Reverend Nena Kilafwasru, undated.
Outline of Kusaien History, Walter Scott Wilson, undated.