All across the nation, the Christian church is dying: losing members and impact on the communities they inhabit. According to church leadership.org, every year over 4,000 churches close their doors. Everywhere except for Hawaii, where the church is actually growing. Churches across the state are gaining following daily and planting new churches frequently. Nestled into the Koolau mountains on the windward side of Oahu, stands one such church.
Anchor church of Kaneohe is a foursquare denomination church led by Pastors Carl Moore and Tom Landeza. Their mission statement is “leading people to the best life possible, by connecting them to God and His family, equipping them to serve and empowering them to win the world for Christ” according to their website.
“We believe in reaching people where they’re at,” Ahuimanu Campus Pastor Tom Landeza said, “it’s not about forcing religion on people, it’s about showing God’s love.”
When you walk on the church campus, you can tell that there’s something different than many other churches. “People notice you and take the time to get to know you” Zach Thompson, an anchor church attendee said. Thompson started attending the church in 2016 and has since become a member. “There’s just so much love and acceptance. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, to what your story is, they love you for you,” Thompson said.
The church prides itself on its outreach programs, such as “laundry love”, a group of people who go to a laundromat in kaneohe several times a month, pay for people’s laundry, and just hang out and talk story with people.
. Another outreach program is “hope’s closet” a non-profit organization started by a member of anchor church. The program allows people to donate clothes, furniture, appliances, and other useful new or gently used items, and then it gives them away to people in the community that need them.
“Our goal is that when people step through the door, they feel loved and accepted,” explained Pastor Carl Moore.
The church has been a fixture of Kaneohe for longer than you might expect. The church was originally called Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay and was started by Carl’s father, Ralph Moore. Ralph Moore is now the senior pastor at Hope Chapel Honolulu.
The name of the church was changed last year. They chose the name “anchor church” as a reference to Hebrews 6:19: “this hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls”. “We believe that this [name change] is something God has led us to, ” Carl Moore explained, “we want to represent to people, to our community that Jesus is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”