We say ‘farewell’ to Soo San Schake who leaves us after serving as organizing assistant and assistant director for Faith Action since 2018. A newly wed, she now leaves for Japan to join her husband where he has a job contract for three to five years. While there, she plans to teach English and drink in the beauty and culture of Japan. We appreciate Soo’s talents and devotion to Faith Action which has helped to strengthen our organization. She launched our Environmental Justice Task Force which attracts new and dynamic members.

   We say ‘welcome’ to Cassie Chee who has just joined Faith Action to be our community organizer.  She has roots on the mainland and Hawaii. She will focus on the ongoing work of strengthening relationships within Faith Action and increasing our membership in numbers and effectiveness in pursuing equity for our communities. Cassie is currently working towards a Master’s of Divinity degree. We look forward to working with Cassie who brings a strong Justice perspective.

From Soo:

I was hired in Fall 2018 as an organizing assistant and then promoted to assistant director which I held from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Before Faith Action I worked as a grant writer, housing navigator, and a healthcare administrator in the nonprofit world.

I married Joshua last August, then he was offered a job contract in Japan. I am joining him in Yokosuka, Japan where we will live for the next three to five years.  I look forward to teaching English and enjoying Japan’s rich culture and history.

The highlights of my time in Faith Action include organizing the Faith Action 2019 Affordable Housing Summit which attracted over 300 attendees; the first ever virtual Faith Action Mayoral Accountability Assembly during COVID; and forming FA’s Environmental Justice Task Force. I most enjoyed connecting with people from all backgrounds, ages, and religions; collaborating with them on various projects for Faith Action.

My prayer for Faith Action:  May Faith Action continue to bring people together, remind each other of our similarities rather than our differences, inspire people to become leaders and civically engaged to use their voices to create positive change in our communities.

 

From Cassie:

I was born on Chumash* land (Los Angeles) and raised on Duwamish* land (Kirkland) with my sister and parents. My family roots are in Korea, Okinawa, and China and on my paternal side we have been displaced settlers* in the Hawaiian Kingdom (Pu’unene, Kalihi, Kualapu’u, Pearl City) for four generations. I have a BA in Visual Communication Design and am currently in the final year of the Master’s of Divinity program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I am excited to join in the rich work of Faith Action as a Community Organizer. I will be working on strengthening our internal relationships and building our base.

My prayer for Faith Action: May we continue to learn how connected we are with all of creation, deepen our solidarities, and build power to birth a more just world.

 * The Chumash and Duwamish are the tribes whose lands Los Angeles and Kirkland currently occupy, respectively. I consider myself and my family to be displaced settlers here in Hawai’i because although we had little choice to immigrate here because of poverty and famine, we are settlers on Native Hawaiian land.

Feeding the Multitude at ‘SERVING ALOHA’

By Evie Hao

Since Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, Central Union Church has been distributing food to people who are suffering from food insecurity because of  the economic effects of COVID-19.  That first Wednesday, CUC served 220 people. Ten Wednesdays later, on Jan. 6, CUC served 450!

“At the beginning I was a bit freaked out with all the things which needed to be completed.”

That is the way Karl Hedberg felt in October as he was about to lead the “Serving Aloha” planning and implementation team for ministering to the hungry in our community. [Gavin, a link can be put here, if you need to break up the story.]

It all started when Rev. Brandon Duran sent an email titled “Breaking Bread” to 10 CUC members.  He asked them to meet with him and Greg Kim, founder of “Help is on the Way,” which delivers food, toiletries, and other basic necessities to kupuna who cannot leave home.  He had also started a food distribution site near downtown which seemed to be attracting many who live in Moiliili and walked all the way to and back.  There were no food distribution sites in the Moiliili-McCully-Kapiolani area.  CUC is in the perfect spot to serve this community.

But can we do it? No one on the team had done anything like this before!

Greg encouraged the inexperienced group with these words, “ If you feel scared, worried, and uncertain…good….If we fail, so what?  I think Jesus teaches us to take risks and aim to make impact…rather than sit idly and safely on the sidelines.”

So the team went to work.  1)Publicizing through TV morning news, flyers, CUC e-blasts, and two huge campus banners . 2) Visiting other food sites to observe receiving, packing, and distributing procedures.  3) Coordinating with food providers such as Aloha Harvest and Hawaii Foodbank. 4) Knowing and following food safety regulations.  5) Instituting COVID protocols for volunteers and recipients.  5) Getting and sustaining Wednesday volunteers from the church and other groups.

So far—so wonderful!

In one of his notes to the team, Rev. Duran reminded us of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes; that it is one of the few stories written in all four gospels. “It is so tangible, simple, and powerful. And it is a story we can play a part in today by addressing food insecurity here in Hawaii,” he said.

Forthcoming articles will focus on members of the team and their specific gifts of service to this ministry: Fanny Yeung, Carolyn Kuahulu, Gary Hoover, Karl Hedberg, Yukiko Dunkle, Joseph Dunkle, Ruth Ann Cullen, Veronica Cheung, Martha Balkin, and Evie Hao.

Interim Minister Search Committee Starts Its Work

By Evie Hao, IMSC Congregational Outreach

The church council has established the Interim Minister Search Committee (IMSC) of nine-members: Robin Campbell, Elly Chong, Don Clifford, Anita DiMauro, Evie Hao, Tom Kiyabu, Carolyn Kuahulu, Margie Smith, and John Steelquist.  Their mini-autobiographies will show the variety of experiences they bring to the work of the committee.

IMSC chair Don Clifford shares the breadth and depth of the work ahead:  “In light of the sudden departure of our Senior Minister in July and the global pandemic since March of this year, our Interim Minister Search Committee (IMSC) has very important work before it.

Our church’s missions have been significantly impacted; we can no longer regularly attend Sunday services together; and it appears that even with a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, the economic disruption caused by the pandemic will continue to plague our islands for years to come.

Our beloved church will not only need strong visionary, organizational, and spiritual leadership to navigate the challenges ahead, it will also need a resurgence of congregational commitment that is our church’s legacy.

Please join with our Council and the IMSC in rebuilding a new future for our church together.  We have begun our work in earnest and we will be reaching out to you all in the months ahead seeking your blessings, prayers, and input as we figure out together exactly what CUC needs for its interim leadership.

We are all in His grip!   Onipa’a”

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We share reflections and a prayer by Elly Chong which was given at IMSC’s first meeting:

We are living in challenging and turbulent times.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 has been on all our minds, to the extent that we find ourselves using it as an excuse to put off decisions, or perhaps, do nothing.

So I ask you to listen to these words, written almost 200 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Come, my friends,

’Tis not too late to seek a newer world…

Tho’ much is taken, much abides;

And tho’ we are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven,

That which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate,

But strong in will 

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(From “Ulysses,” 1833)

Let us pray:

Gracious and loving God, we come before you today to meet the task before us:  to find an Interim Minister for our beloved Central Union Church.

In this time of COVID, we ask that you embolden us to think beyond ourselves, and do what is right for our beloved community of believers.

Grant us the wisdom and courage to see beyond what exists, to move into uncharted territory, to not be satisfied with the status quo, and to take risks that might be outside the box.

Help us to trust one another as we move forward.

And we beseech you to bless each one of us as we now assume this responsibility.

All this we ask in the name of the Risen Christ, who has taught us that “Love Never Faileth.”

AMEN.

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IMSC members and autobiographies:

Robin Campbell

I was born and raised in Honolulu and am a longtime member of Central Union Church. I spent many years living on the mainland and Asia before returning to Honolulu. I have served on the Adult Education Committee as well as the Women’s League Scholarship Review Committee. I am currently a member of the World Missions Ministry and the Diaconate. I look forward to serving in the Search Committee.

 Eleanore Atherton “Elly” Chong  

I came to Central Union Church when my parents, the late Rev. and Mrs. Kim On Chong, became members in 1952.  I was confirmed into membership in 1963.  I have served on numerous committees and have been Chair of the Board of Deaconesses, a Trustee (twice), and Moderator (chair of the Church Council).  In the wider church I have been President of the Oahu Association UCC, and Moderator of the Hawaii Conference UCC.  I have extensive experience with the national setting of the UCC (including the United Church Board for World Ministries, the Office of Communication, the Executive Council, and the Office of General Ministries).  I am now on the United Church of Christ Board of Directors.

Prayer:  Loving God, help and embolden us as we seek to find an Interim Minister who will enable us to bring stability amidst all this chaos, and who will inspire us to renew our sense of congregationalism.  AMEN.

Don Clifford

I moved to Hawaii in 1977 from the suburbs of Boston.  My wife Terri and I have a 9th grader named Jordan that is attending Mid-Pac.  Terri and I are both licensed architects.  Jordan is an avid water polo player. During the last 40 years I’ve held a variety of executive positions around the world in Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London and Manhattan.  Currently, I am a Group Manager with SSFM International in Honolulu.  Since joining CUC in 2010 I’ve served on the Vision Teams for both the Honolulu and Windward campuses, the Raise the Roof Campaign for the Sanctuary and currently I am serving on the CUC Virtual Services Committee and the CUC Interim Minister Search Committee.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the endless blessings that you have bestowed upon our Church for so many years.  Please continue to open our hearts and minds to the new directions that our Church will travel in the years to come and lead us as we seek a new pastor for our Church.

Anita DiMauro

I was married in Pilgrim Chapel in 1963, went to New York and retired in 1968. I became a member of Central Union Church and since then served as Council Chair, Preschool Chair and chair of Deaconess, World Missions etc. I’m looking forward to serving on this committee.

Evelyn “Evie” Hao

I was born in the Philippines and came to Hawaii with my parents who had been hired to work on the plantation.  I grew up in Kalihi, graduated from Farrington High School and UH Manoa University.  I loved my years as an English/journalism teacher at Aiea High School and as the principal of Prince Kuhio Elementary.  My family and I have been members of Central Union Church since the mid-‘80’s.  Serving on various committees, being a CUC trustee, CUC council chair, and president of Faith Action for Community Equity have been enriching for me.

Prayer:  Lord, be with us as we look to the future of our church.  Help us remember that our church is of the spirit and that we strive to take your spirit of love and care into the community.  Give us grace, wisdom, strength to do so in your precious name.  Amen

Tom Kiyabu

I retired from United Parcel Service (UPS) in 2016 after 41years of service. I served as CUC Council Chair in 2018-2020.  I am now a real estate advisor at Century 21 Properties.  I hope I can assist in the search for an interim minister who will lead us into the new normal while protecting our historical legacy.

Prayerful thought: Allow God to open our hearts and guide us to CUC’s future.

Carolyn Kuahulu      

I was born and raised in California.  I became an elementary school teacher and taught in Sacramento for 12 years before moving to Hawai’i in 1975. I continued teaching here in various schools and finished my career at Holy Family Catholic Academy in 2006 after a total of 42 years.  I continued to substitute until 2019.  I married a Waikiki Beach Boy and had many years of fun in the sun. I attended Central Union Church for many years before becoming a member in 1999.  I have been an active member and chair of Community Ministry for many years.  I am also a member of Chancel Choir, Church Council, Serving Aloha, and representative of CUC at Faith Action for Community Equity.

My prayer for our church is that God will lead us to be a beacon of hope for those less fortunate in our community.

Margie Smith

I became a member of Central Union Church in 1971 when we moved to Honolulu.  My husband Kit was baptized and confirmed in Central Union.  I was asked by Rev. Rewick to run the Bookcart Library in the early 1970s and did that for almost a decade. I worked as a librarian at Hamilton Library at UH Manoa for 20 years.  After retiring, I was asked to computerize the Arcadia library and enjoyed 17 years working/volunteering there. I have served at various times on the Arcadia Board and the 15 Craigside Board as well as on the Board of Hawaiian Islands Ministries.  I have been privileged to serve on a wide variety of church committees and I am currently chair of the World Mission Ministry.

My Prayer for Central Union is that we continue to reflect and share God’s love that never fails with our local community, the wider world, and with one another

John Steelquist: John’s contribution will appear in a follow-up article.

Kailua is a beautiful place to work and live, but hidden in this community are many individuals and families who are struggling each day to pay bills, put food on the table, and ultimately support themselves and their families.

There are food distribution programs all over this beautiful island we call home and each one has come to mean so much to the most needy of our community,

a safe place for those less fortunate.

Clients range from the young mother who needs extra groceries to tide her over until her next pay check, to the homeless man who is destitute and in need. We don’t judge, we don’t question, we are just there to give.

I like to think that we do more then just hand out food each week.

  • In a society where the most down trodden can be made to feel inferior, I hope that the people who come to us for food, for help, come to a place where they are greeted with a smile and treated with respect.
  • I hope they feel the care that goes into the salads, fresh sandwiches, homemade brownies and cookies and fresh fruit we offer.
  • I’d like to think they leave with a lighter heart.
  • My husband and I have been running the Wednesday morning for distribution at Central Union Windward for the past 12 years. We took it over from another couple who ran it for a number of years.
  • We are hoping to find someone or a couple or group to take this program over. It has been an incredibly rewarding mission ,but we are ready to pass it on. I honestly felt lucky to be in a position to run such a program.
  • Some facts

-The program is funded by the church, part of their outreach funds

-Food is given out every Wednesday morning 10-11:30

-We have a room at the church where we store our food

-Part of the job is to shop once a month or as needed at the Honolulu foodbank, We are an agency there.

-The food is put on the shelves, bagged then distributed each week.

We have covid restrictions in place. I sign them in and sit 10 ft away from the table where they can get their bags. Everyone wears a mask as well.

This is a small but impactful program. We give out between 40-80 bags a week.