1852: The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) sent its first groups of American and Native Hawaiian missionaries from O’ahu on the schooner Caroline to the Marshall Islands, Kiribati (then called Kingsmill and Gilbert Islands), Pohnpei (then called Ascencion), and Kosrae (then called Strong’s Island) in Micronesia. Most of these Native Hawaiian missionaries were members of Kawaiaha’o and Haili churches. The most famous of these Native Hawaiian missionaries were: Rev. James Kekela (who is best remembered for his later missionary work in the Marquesas); Daniel Opunui; his wife, Doreka Opunui; Berita Kaaikaula; and, his wife, Debora Kimiala. The head of the mission was Reverend Benjamin Galen Snow.
King Kamehameha III was supportive of the mission, attended the mission’s farewell service at Kawaiaha’o Church, and wrote the following letter to be presented to the chiefs and kings of Micronesia:
We, Kamehameha III, of the Hawaiian Islands, of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau, King sends greeting to all chiefs of the islands in this great ocean to the westward, called Caroline Islands, Kingsmill group, etc. Peace and happiness to you all, now and forever.
Here is my friendly message to you. There are about to sail for your islands some teachers of the Most High God, Jehovah, to make known unto you His word for your eternal salvation. A part of them are white men from the United States of America; and a part of them belong to my Islands. Their names are as follows: B. G. Snow and wife, A. A. Sturgis and wife, L. H. Gulick and wife, W. W. Clark, J. T. Gulick, Opunui and wife, Kaaikaula and wife, and Kekela. H. Holdwoth is captain of the vessel.
I, therefore, take the liberty to commend these good teachers to your care and friendship, to exhort you to listen to their instructions, and to seek their acquaintance. I have seen the value of such teachers. We here on my Islands once lived in ignorance and idolatry. We were given to war, and we were very poor. Now my people are enlightened. We live in peace, and some have acquired property. Our condition is very greatly improved on what it once was; and the word of God has been the great cause of our improvement. Many of my people regard the word of God Jehovah, and pray to Him: and He has greatly blessed us. I advise you to throw away your idols, take the Lord Jehovah for your God, worship and love Him, and He will bless and save you. May He make these new teachers a great blessing to you and your people, and withhold from you no good thing.
The Micronesian mission were received in the Marshalls, Kiribati, Kosrae, and Pohnpei. The king or ruler of Kosrae, Awane Lepalik I (“Good King George”), was supportive of the mission and encouraged his people to convert and Kosrae rapidly becomes Congregationalist.
1853: Daniel Opunui passes away in Kosrae leaving behind a profound legacy on Kosrae.
1857: The Marshall Islands received its first foreign missionaries. Rev. Hiram Bingham Jr. of ABCFM established a missionary outpost on Ebon atoll.
November 19, 1857: American Protestant missionaries Hiram Bingham II and his wife Clara Brewster Bingham sailed to Apiang, one of the Gilbert Islands in what is now called Kiribati. Afterwards, Native Hawaiian pastors spread Christianity in the Western islands of Micronesia including Chuuk (then called Truk).
August 7, 1857: The “Morning Star” missionary ship sailed for Micronesia.
1869: A training school for mission teachers was founded on Ebon atoll.
Late 1870s: At least fourteen strong Protestant churches were established in the eastern Caroline Islands.