“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 

Written by Rev. Brandon Durán

Today is the birthday of Queen Lili‘uokalani.  In celebration of her legacy a special service was held at Soldier’s Chapel at Schofield Barracks yesterday.  It is said that the Queen donated funds for the creation of the chapel in 1913.  Some historians doubt the veracity of this story given the unjust imprisonment of the Queen by the US military.  However, others look at this story as further testimony of the Queen’s Christlike heart and her strength of character.  Either way, we do know that the Rev. Doremus Scudder, then Senior Minister at Central Union, participated in the dedication service of Soldier’s Chapel over a century ago.

Faith leaders and community members stand outside in front of Soldiers Chapel

Photo credit: Josiah Patterson

Yesterday’s service brought together historians, Episcopal priests, Methodist ministers, local musicians, and Buddhist priests (I did not know the Queen played an important role in supporting Buddhist communities in Hawai‘i).  Our Conference Minister, the Rev. Dr. David Popham, shared about the Congregationalists relationship with the Queen.  Kahu Wendell Davis, the Papa Makua, shared about melodic connections between Hawai‘i Aloha and the hymn, “I Left it All with Jesus.”  I was invited to attend and speak because of Central Union’s historic connection to Soldier’s Chapel.

Brandon Duran, Wendell Davis, David Popham stand around framed photo of Queen Liliuokalani at Soldiers Chapel for her birthday celebration in 2022

Pictured: Brandon Durán, Wendell Davis, David Popham. Photo credit: Josiah Patterson

The Rev. Scudder led Central Union during a time of great giving.  Central Union was financially supporting missions around the world and all over O‘ahu.  In his 1913 Annual Report, Rev. Scudder was pleased to announce that the church “had given away more than we have spent on ourselves.”  Rev. Scudder encouraged the church to be a force for good in the world proclaiming to the congregation that the church’s “aim has been to live for others rather than to develop itself.”

This compassion proclamation rooted in a heart that is other-centered was in no way novel or unique.  There are many traditions and individuals who have espoused such a value and lived such a guiding light.  On this day, celebrating Queen Lili‘uokalani’s birthday, we remember how she held this light high with beauty and strength as she served the people of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

We know that perhaps the best way to remember and celebrate someone is to live out their values.  Today may we follow the Queen’s lead in looking to Christ as our light and praying for peace to reign in our hearts and in our communities.

Framed photo of Queen Liliuokalani adorned in lei at Soldiers Chapel

Photo credit: Josiah Patterson

Queen’s Prayer (Ke Aloha O Ka Haku) – by Queen Lili‘uokalani

ʻO kou aloha no
Aia i ka lani
A ʻo kou ʻoia ʻi ʻo
He hemolele hoʻi

Koʻu noho mihi ʻana
A pa ʻahao ʻia
ʻO ʻoe kuʻu lama
Kou nani, koʻu koʻo

Mai nānā ʻino ʻino
Nā hewa o kānaka
Akā e huikala
A ma ʻema ʻe nō

No laila, e ka Haku
Ma lalo o kou ʻēheu
Ko mākou maluhia
A mau loa aku nō


English translation:
Your loving mercy
Is as high as Heaven
And your truth
So perfectI live in sorrow
You are my light
Your glory, my support

Behold not with malevolence
The sins of man
But forgive
And cleanse

And so, o Lord
Protect us beneath your wings
And let peace be our portion
Now and forever more