Historic Hvaler Church, on Kirkeøy (Churh Island), is the south­ern­most point in the diocese. Historians say that this Medevial Age church is one of Norway's old­est, if not the old­est.

How old is the church? No one is exactly sure but Carbon-14 dat­ing meth­ods on wood samples analyzed in 1960 sug­gest that it dates from between 920 and 1080. Ar­cheologists carried out ex­ten­sive ex­ca­va­tions during the res­to­ra­tion from 1953 to 1956, from now on called "the res­tora­tion". Among their discov­eries is a fireplace under the foundation that Carbon-14 dating meth­ods reveal is from between 120 BC and 80 AD. Thus, we know the church stands over what might be a pre­his­toric pa­gan site of worship. The new replaced the old; Christ was stronger than the pa­gan gods were.
Hvaler Church, some experts say, is large for a Medevial Age church. According to one the­ory, it was built as a mission church for planned work far­ther in­ward on the main­land.

For centuries worshipers, especially those from Hvaler's western islands, trav­eled to and from the church in boats equipped with oars and sails. Such a trip was naturally long and tiresome. On reaching land, an old deed to nearby Kjølbo farm gave them the right to use a path called Vad­holm­veien on their way to the church. The re­mains of a stone stair­way along that path are still visi­ble.

Kjølbo farm was once the home of the English­man John William LeGassicke Good­child. There he ran a gen­eral store, an inn, and for a few years, a bar. Wor­ship­ers could freshen up and change clothes there be­fore con­tinuing to church. Goodchild also served as Hva­ler's fourth mayor from 1845 to 1847. You can see his grave right outside the church's main en­trance.

Historians and scientists made many interest­ing discoveries during the restoration giving them valuable in­for­ma­tion about the church's past. Before 1700, buri­als oc­ca­sion­ally took place inside. After 1700 and un­til 1805, they buried only clergy in­side the church. Dur­ing the restora­tion, work­ers moved all cof­fins found in­side to a newly built grave cham­ber under the nave's west floor. 

Archeologists also found 804 coins under the choir floor. While many origi­nate from Nor­way, some are from Ger­many, Den­mark, and Sweden. About ¾ of the coins date from be­fore 1536. The old­est coin is from 1130. These coins prove that Hva­ler's in­habi­tants were in con­tact with the Euro­pean Con­ti­nent centu­ries ago.
In Germany, Martin Luther's criticism of the Roman Catholic Church led to the Ref­or­ma­tion movement. Reaching Norway in 1536, this movement led to the change­over from the Ro­man Catholic to the Lutheran faith.
Privately owned from 1724, Hvaler Church be­came munici­pal prop­erty in 1860.

Source: Hvaler Menighet