By Wendy Osher
Members of the Kahana Door of Faith Church turned to prayer on Tuesday as a judgment was made against them in Wailuku District Court.
A suit was filed by the Door of Faith Church and Bible School on O’ahu against four defendants and members of the Kahana congregation on Maui: Michele Vierra-Pupunu, Robert Ai Smith Takahashi, Eileen Smith Cliff, and Jane Smith Casco.
The case ended up in court when the Door of Faith Churches and Bible School Inc. on O’ahu listed the property for sale last year, reportedly at an estimated $2.5 million. A description of the parcel on a real estate website described the property as “unique, peaceful and well kept” and, “a jewel to be developed.”
In a ruling issued in the courtroom of Judge Rhonda Loo on Tuesday, summary judgment was issued in favor of the O’ahu church as the rightful owner; however, the judge denied damages, attorney fees, and said the belongings and property within the church belong to congregation on Maui.
The Kahana Door of Faith Church has been in existence for 70 years.
During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecuting attorney Jay Suemori said it was their contention that since 1947, when the property was conveyed to the Door of Faith Corp., it has been the sole and exclusive owner.
Suemori stated in court that the “defendants have presented no evidence. It boils down to their self-serving allegations and admissible hearsay,” he said.
Defense attorney Richard McCarty, meantime, who asked the court to have the case go to trial, said the property was conveyed to the Door of Faith Church, not the Door of Faith Churches and Bible School Inc. The defense claimed the members built the church, made contributions over the last seven decades, and “paid for everything through their own hard work and savings.”
Some members of the congregation said despite the ruling, they plan to return to the property this weekend for Sunday service.
Kahu David Kapaku, who has been serving as the Kahu or pastor of the church since November of 2010, said, “With the present leadership in Honolulu, they’re selling too many churches, and that’s not the mission of the church or its founder.”
At present, Kapaku said, the congregation (located on Lower Honoapiilani Road near the Napili Market) has between 85 and 100 members. “It’s pretty packed on Sundays.”
Come Sunday, Kapaku said, “We’re going to hold service there. Until they throw us out, we’ll still hold service there.”
“All I know is at this point, it is not over,” he said.