During the 2021 legislative session the Legislature seems to have directed most of its attention and energy toward the effect of Covid-19 on the economy and the State budget. As a result, the Legislature didn’t do much about other issues – critical though they might be.
The 2021 legislative session will end on April 29. Here is a summary of how Faith Action’s issues have fared so far.
HousingNOW! And Environmental Justice Task Forces
Faith Action had endorsed several major bills, such as Sen. Stanley Chang’s A.L.O.H.A Homes bill that would develop tens of thousands of homes on State land to be leased at truly affordable prices to Hawaii’s residents (SB 1 and HB 607). Faith Action also endorsed the carbon fee and dividend model (SB 311 and HB 134), which would reduce fossil fuel emissions, while having financial benefits to low-income households.
Those measures, however, have died.
Subsequently, Faith Action’s Environmental Justice and Housing NOW! Task Forces decided to support several bills that were still alive, but more modest in nature. These surviving bills included parts consistent with the “big idea” bills that Faith Action originally endorsed.
The Housing NOW! Task Force supported the following:
- SB 733 designated affordable housing to be built on all State-owned land within one mile of any rail station.
- SB 40 required housing developed by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to be occupied by the owners, who must be Hawaii residents who own no other real property. Furthermore,
- SB 33 required each county to create a housing supply plan to accommodate the increased demand for housing.
Unfortunately, of all the bills supported by Housing NOW!, the only bill still alive (as of April 10) is SB 2, which facilitates the development of public lands for affordable housing.
The Environmental Justice Task Force supports the following bills and a resolution still alive as of April 10:
- SB 1401 requires new infrastructure for ground transportation to be more environmentally sustainable.
- SB 1402 requires the State to adopt a plan for ground transportation that emphasizes bicycle and pedestrian pathways.
- SCR44 declares a climate emergency and urges immediate action to address climate change.
After the legislative session ends, the Environmental Justice Task Force will issue a scorecard to let the public know to what degree each State legislator supported environmental bills.
Long-Term Care Task Force
The Long-Term Care Task Force supports SB 838, which provides the Executive Office on Aging with greater flexibility to help kupuna caregivers. This bill is still alive as of April 10.
Faith Action will continue to pursue issues of critical importance to the people of Hawaii and is already thinking about the 2022 legislative session.
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”
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.”
IMSC members and autobiographies:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.