Our Mission & Vision

Oikos is the Greek word used in the New Testament translated “household.” (See Acts 20:20 for an example). It is similar in meaning to the Hawaiian word “ohana.” The New Testament oikos included members of the family and extended to employees and other close friends. In other words, one’s oikos may include their family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and classmates – our relational world – our sphere of influence – our ohana. We believe God calls the church to equip each person to share the Good News of Jesus with their oikos. Therefore, our mission is…

To prepare every generation to change their world for Christ by:

  • Encouraging every believer to identify their oikos;
  • Motivating every believer to intentionally engage their oikos; and
  • Preparing every believer to both demonstrate and communicate their faith in Christ.


University Avenue Baptist Church, located in beautiful Manoa Valley, was organized in 1946. The church was located in an area of older homes near a low-cost housing project. Most of the early membership and Sunday School attendants came from the housing area.

The church emerged from the Baptist Bible Institute. The Mid-Pacific Institute’s former president’s home served as a meeting place for both the Bible Institute and church services. Through a generous grant from the Foreign Mission Board, the main building was constructed. An addition, the annex building, was financed by the members later. The newest building was completed in June 1993 after six years of planning and prayer, and nine months of construction at a cost of $450,000. The building was dedicated on July 4th as the Victor & Lee Koon Missions Building in honor of all the missionaries who came to Hawaii to proclaim the Good News of Christ. This building will assist the University Avenue Baptist Church to be on missions/ministry to our community on behalf of Christ.

Missionaries expelled from Asia during World War II figured largely in the beginning of the Baptist work in Hawaii. Among those ministering with University Avenue Baptist Church were Dr. and Mrs. Lindell Harris, Dr. and Mrs. H.B. Ramsour, Miss Cornelia Leavell, and Dr. and Mrs. Victor Koon.

What We Believe

Baptists have much in common with other Christians. In fact, we have more in common with other Christians than most people imagine. In agreement with faithful Christians around the world, we believe that:

God always has been and always will be.  He created life and sustains life.  He has no equal.  He exists in three distinct and equal persons:  the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  This reality is often referred to as the Trinity.  We believe in One God, co-equal, eternal and creator of all.  He is an unchanging Father who passionately desires a relationship with all people.

Jesus Christ has always been and yet lived on earth during the first century A.D.  Throughout His earthly life, he was completely God and completely human.  After living a perfect, sinless life, Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for every human being who has ever lived by dying on a cross.  He remained in the grave for three days and then defeated sin and death by rising from the tomb.  He then ascended to Heaven and will return to earth one day to reign as King.

The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity.  He works in the world to make all people understand their need for Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit indwells every believer upon his or her faith in Jesus Christ.  The Spirit gives us the strength to live a life that pleases God.

The Bible reveals to us God’s character, His plans, and His purpose for our lives.  Each book was written by ordinary men who wrote under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  More than a “how to” book, the Bible is a love letter that can be completely trusted.  It is the source of final authority in our lives.  All statements of belief, including this one, are secondary to, and should be examined in light of, Scripture. We believe the Bible is the complete written word of God and is without error. The Holy Scriptures reveal God’s nature and purpose and has the power to lead us to an eternal relationship with our Creator. The appropriate lens through which we understand scripture is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Scripture cannot be interpreted independently of either Jesus Christ or the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Humans have been made in the image of God to have fellowship with Him, but became alienated in that relationship through sinful disobedience.  As a result, humanity is incapable of regaining a right relationship with God through our own efforts.  Apart from Jesus, all humanity is spiritually dead.

Salvation is out of our own reach. Our disobedient nature has eternally separated us from our Creator. No matter how hard we try, we can never earn our way back into God’s presence. Our only hope is to trust Jesus as God’s solution for our disobedience. We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, provides the sole basis for the forgiveness of sin.  Therefore, salvation occurs when people place their faith in the death and resurrection of Christ as sufficient payment for their sin.

The most comprehensive confession of faith in which most University Avenue members would find agreement is the 1963 Baptist Faith & Message.


Who Are Baptists?

What sets Baptists apart from other Christian denominations is how we understand the church. Most Baptists believe in the following:

Believers’ Church

A New Testament church is made up of believers only. Children and grandchildren of members are precious to God and are important to their families within the church, but they cannot be members themselves until they consciously place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.


Believer’s Baptism

After a person accepts Jesus as Savior they are to be baptized. Therefore, we baptize believers only, not infants (We do have an infant or child dedication service). Consistent with the Greek word on which the word “baptize” is based, baptism is performed by full immersion of the individual. University Avenue Baptist Church understands and respects that other Christians practice baptism by other modes and with other meanings; however, University Avenue Baptist Church follows this traditional Baptist model. Baptism is an external sign of an internal change. This is not to suggest that baptism saves a person.  Faith in Christ is what saves.  However, baptism is a step of obedience that every believer is expected to take to identify with the death, burial and resurrection.  Baptism is the occasion to “go public!”  Just like a bride and groom show others their love for one another by wearing wedding bands, your baptism is an opportunity to show others that you have accepted Christ and are now walking with him. It represents that you have been washed clean!  It demonstrates a believers’ submission to God and their willingness to follow Him.

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence and grace of Jesus Christ. By faith, we meet the risen Lord at his table in a unique and powerful way.

Church Offices

The two church offices in a Baptist congregation are ministers and deacons. Ministers are the spiritual leaders of the church, overseeing worship, proclamation, discipleship, and all other ministries. Deacons are the primary models of lay ministry, serving the church through family ministry, outreach, and prayerful consideration of major proposals offered by church committees and teams. Deacons are not a governing body of the church, but rather a ministering body, discerning and modeling the best ways that University Avenue can reach others with Christ’s love.

Priesthood of All Believers

All Christians are priests before God through the saving work of Jesus Christ. No woman or man needs an intermediary to commune with God, interpret scripture or minister on her or his behalf. Pastors and full-time clergy are called by God to ministry as a vocation. Although they inhabit a leadership position by virtue of their vocation, their role does not place them in a theologically superior position to the laity. Baptists elevate the laity so that every member is a minister.

Autonomy of the Local Church

Every Baptist church is intended to be a fellowship of like-minded believers, autonomous in its governance and affiliations. All affiliations with local associations, or state or national conventions are voluntary. In affiliating with an association or convention, a Baptist church does not relinquish any of its autonomy or independence regarding either theology or governance. No church has to gain permission from another church in order to do what it believes is the will of God. At the same time, Baptist churches have a long history of cooperating with one another to expand and further the Kingdom of God in the world.
Religious Liberty

In their earliest years, Baptists were persecuted for their convictions about religious liberty. Having suffered at the hands of those who wanted to unite church and state, Baptists have long stood for the absolute religious liberty of all people, achieved through the separation of church and state. Because each person is responsible for their own relationship with God, it is imperative that no person or human institution, particularly government, be a coercive influence either in support of or in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each individual must be afforded the right to define their own relationship with God. This right should be guaranteed in both law and practice. Preventing the government from involvement in religion protects society from the tyranny of the majority, individual liberty from coercion and religion itself from corruption by powerful but sinful, finite individuals. For these reasons, church and state should be separate. “A free church in a free nation” is the motto of Baptists. 

What Kind of Baptist?

Baptists come in all shapes and sizes and are not the same. Currently, there are over 64 separate Baptist denominations in the United States and the diversity is surprising. For example, Primitive Baptists ardently defend predestination; so do Regular Baptists and Reformed Baptists. But Free Will Baptists believe just the opposite. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists don’t believe in missions.

Swedish Baptists and German Baptists live primarily in the midwest; Northern Baptists (who later became American Baptists) were strongest in the northeast. Southern Baptists began in the south and still have their largest numbers there. Some Fundamentalist Baptists believe that the first Baptist church was started in 31 A.D. and that “nobody is a true Bible fundamentalist unless he is a fundamental Baptist.” The Alliance of Baptists are at the complete other end of the theological spectrum as they embrace diversity and nonconformity. The list goes on and on.

In light of this diversity, what kind of Baptists are we at University Avenue? 

First, we are evangelical Baptists.

 This means we are Gospel-centered. Jesus Christ is the most common name in our church’s vocabulary. The Bible is the primary book we study. We are concerned about knowing Jesus Christ sharing making him known to our oikos and around the world.

Second, we are ecumenical Baptists.

 While we are Baptist, we believe that God is bigger than Baptists. We rejoice in God’s activity in numerous denominations and para-church groups. We want to cooperate with and be open to all that God is doing in these organizations. We respect and love anyone who makes the common Christian confession, “Jesus is Lord.” We are more interested in the Kingdom of God than in a specific denominational label. 

Third, we are open-minded Baptists.

 Within the limits of the New Testament, we want our members to enjoy the freedom that comes in following Jesus Christ. This does not mean that one person is free to use the Bible while another uses the Koran, or that one is free to worship Jesus while another bows to Buddha, or that one is free to obey the Great Commandment while another is free to reject it. 

Being open-minded does not give a believer the right to ignore or disobey Biblical teachings and the example of Jesus. With that said, however, there is not a lock-step mentality at University Avenue that requires every Christian to look, walk, and talk the same. Our goal is to follow Jesus Christ, and that necessitates a spirit of liberty and responsibility.

University Avenue Baptist Church is a member church of the:

Oahu Baptist Network (OBN)Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (HPBC) Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), and the Baptist World Alliance (BWA)



We think membership in the University Avenue family is important. Jesus gave priority to the church (

Matthew 16:10-19

). The New Testament has many references to the church, and most of these refer to the local body of believers. Therefore, the New Testament pattern was connection to a local church.
  • Membership identifies a person as a genuine believer (Ephesians 2:19
  • Membership expresses your commitment to God (Matthew 22:37). 
  • Membership provides a spiritual family to support and encourage you in your walk with Christ (Hebrews 10: 24-25). 
  • Membership gives you the opportunity to discover and exercise your gifts in ministry. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-27).
  • Membership gives you the accountability you need to help you become a mature follower of Christ (Ephesians 4: 13-16).   


What are our expectations and requirements for membership? 

  • Profess Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. 
  • Experience baptism by immersion as a symbol of your faith in Christ. 
  • Attend a “Discovering University Avenue” class to understand the purpose, vision, and ministries of our church. These classes are held quarterly. You can find the dates and sign up for the class here. 
  • Be involved in Kingdom living and growth.


How do we accept members into the church?

You may present yourself for membership at University Avenue Baptist Church at the end of worship in one of the following ways:
Profession of Faith/Baptism:
Individuals who profess for the first time that Christ is their Lord and Savior join the church through their profession of faith and are subsequently baptized during one of the worship services. 
Transfer of Membership:
Individuals who are members of another Baptist church can request membership via transfer of their membership to this congregation. The church office, in turn, contacts the other Baptist church for an official recommendation and transfer of membership. 
Statement of Faith:
Persons who are members of churches from another denomination may join upon their profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior and acknowledgement they’ve been baptized by immersion as a believer. 


People who are members of a church from another denomination but have never been immersed as a believer may join the church. Upon professing their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior and following Christ’s example in believer’s baptism, they are accepted into membership. 
These individuals are members of another church yet want to join our church family while they are living in our community. They do not want to transfer their membership from their church, but want to identify with our church family. College students and short-term workers in the Honolulu area frequently use this membership option. While Watchcare membership allows for all the privileges of fellowship and worship, one may not serve in an elected position of leadership or vote in church business sessions.