February 9, 2024

Residents gather in Lahaina to remember lost loved ones, share in prayer six months after the fire

More than 200 community members joined with faith leaders from 13 Lahaina churches to offer prayers during a gathering Thursday in observance of the six-month mark after the Lahaina fire.

Loved ones lost in the Aug. 8, 2023 fire were remembered in a video tribute at the start of the solemn event at the Lahaina Civic Center Amphitheater.

“In the season that we’re in, all control belongs to God, and that’s the way we’re going to get through what we’re going through,” said King’s Chapel Lahaina Pastor Kawi Keahi, who lost his home and church building in the fire. “God’s peace is available to us. You know what I’m thankful for – I’m still here, my family is still here, you’re still here.”

The Rev. Ai Hironaka of Lahaina Hongwanji, one of the three Buddhist churches lost in the fire, recalled how a store clerk from Foodland Lahaina recognized him when they encountered each other at a store in Central Maui, where he now lives.

“People from Lahaina meet in the other side of town, sharing the most heartfelt hug,” Rev. Hironaka said. “This hug after the fire is something really beautiful only to us. Even with the same experience, everyone handles it differently. Everyone is different and everyone is wonderful.”

Mayor Richard Bissen said the evening was dedicated to families who lost loved ones in the fire. “This is a night for our community to be together, to come together,” he said. “We have all changed so much since this has happened.”

Lahaina faith leaders who participated in the February 8thevent included the Rev. Gensho Hara of Lahaina Jodo Mission, the Rev. Takayuki Meguro of Lahaina Shingon Mission, the Rev. Ai Hironaka of Lahaina Hongwanji, Pastor Steve Santos of Calvary Chapel Westside, Youth Director Zab Dominguez of Harvest Kumulani Chapel, Bishop Tausinga Hafoka of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lahaina, Kahu Anela Rose of Waiola Church, Pastor Benny Mariano of the International Christian Fellowship Church of God, Deacon Chris Rubicon of Maria Lanakila Church, Pastor Erik Naylor of Lahaina Baptist Church, Pastor Kawi Keahi of King’s Chapel Lahaina, Elder John Brath of Lahaina Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Rev. Larry Elies of Lahaina Christian Fellowship, now Citizen Church Maui.

Anyone needing more information or support for mental health can find services at no cost at www.MauiRecovers.org/mentalhealth.

County of Maui Recovery Permit Center

A vital resource for those who are looking to rebuild in fire-affected areas in Lahaina and Kula as they navigate the permitting process and take the next step toward returning home.

County of Maui Service Center
110 Alaihi St., Suite 207

Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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