Hungering for the spiritual meat of the Bible, a group of Hilo residents began to meet as a "Prayer & Praise Fellowship" in 1979. The group was incorporated as a church on August 7, 1980 under the leadership of Kahu (Pastor or Shepherd) Thomas Kirkwood Kalili. The congregation chose the name Berean Bible Church to identify with the ancient city of Berea. Like the Christians of Berea, this Hilo congregation "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day" to see if what their pastor said was true (Acts 17:11).
Over the years, Kahu Tom steadfastly presented the Word of God as the ultimate guide for all life and godliness. To him, the Bible alone was the final authority on matters of faith and practice. He never compromised on this matter, and he was never ashamed of the gospelt of Christ. His work as a pastor-teacher had a profound impact on those who studied the Bible with him. Kahu Tom was described as having a deep biblical love for each and every one who attended the BBC worship service or Bible study. He happily shared his pulpit with such notable preachers as Dr. J. Vernon McGee and Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum to encourage the spiritual growth of his beloved Bereans.
In 1992, Kahu Tom discovered he had cancer. Given three months to live, he continued to lead the Berean Bible Church faithfully. God granted Kahu Tom four more years of life to prepare his men to lead the local church body after his passing. On June 30, 1996, the Lord took Kahu Tom, His "good and faithful servant," home to heaven.
Under the leadership of Elder Tommy Crabb, who is also now with the Lord, the men of the church carried on without Kahu Tom for one year. Finally overwhelmed by the responsibility of preaching each week, they reached out for help from Kahu Tom's friend and mentor, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. Arnold's recommendation led to a special relationship with Kahu Michael J. Inouye of Oahu who agreed to serve as a one-year interim pastor. He flew each weekend from Honolulu, and the one-year-commitment turned into two years. Finally Kahu Mike, who by now was commuting from the island of Molokai, announced that May 1999 would be his last month.
As the May deadline approached, The Master's Seminary student and Kauai island native, Daniel Costales, heard about the need at BBC. After completing his Master of Divinity degree, Kahu Daniel was ordained and commissioned to be pastor of BBC in September 1999, and he continues to serve as the lead pastor-teacher today. In God's providence, Kahu Tom and Kahu Daniel's father both attended Bob Jones University together and were close friends.
Currently serving as elders alongside Kahu Daniel are Louis "Fred" Deetman, Earl Nakasato, Roy Cornella, Aaron Tresham, and Mark Morikawa.
In the early days, the Bereans met in private homes. Eventually and for the longest period, the Bereans met every Sunday morning and Wednesday night at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on Banyan Drive. All the while, the church family scoured Hilo for a suitable location for a church building. Funds were set aside for future construction, and the centrally located Panaewa strip appeared to be ideal for a church.
In 2004, the 2.73 acres of agricultural land with a dwelling at 420 Lama Street officially became the church's property. The leaders and congregation dreamed and planned and worked until the current sanctuary became a reality. In October 2009, the County of Hawaii granted the final building and occupancy permit. On February 27, 2010, the church buildings were dedicated for use in the preaching ministry of God's Word. On dedication day, Kahu Daniel Costales reminded congregants that the word church designates the individual persons who are Christ's bride. The building is the place where the Berean Bible Church gathers for worship. In order to help make the distinction, the sanctuary itself is now named the "Thomas Kirkwood Kalili Building" in memory of the founding pastor.
Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone be the glory.