Bishop's CURRENT Messages:
The Identity of the Episcopal Church in Hawai'i - June 2018
Aloha o ke Akua,
As the three Strategic Initiative Design Teams (Spiritual Growth, ʻOhana and Communication) began their work, we discussed the core identity of the Diocese of Hawai ʻi . I suggested that my understanding of our Church is that we are "Hawaiian, Progressive and Catholic." I think this provides the necessary foundation for our future. We are unique in the Episcopal Church - perhaps the Anglican Communion. We did not arrive as "missionaries" imposed upon the indigenous people, but as a Church invited by the King and Queen to share a faith and particular way of being Christian. Language and context are essential to our identity.
Our very founding is defined by the invitation from King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. It is extremely rare that a Church showed up by invitation anywhere - not as colonizers, but as welcomed guests. We arrived causing trouble for the American "Calvinist" missionaries: The following quote from Mark Twain can be found in Robert Louis Semes article, "Hawai'i's Holy War: English Bishop Staley, American Congregationalists, and the Hawaiian Monarchs, 1860-1870" (see HERE) :
Further, I have repeatedly heard stories of the relationship of the Bishops and the Sisters (the Anglican/Episcopal nuns that founded the Priory) to Queen Emma and Queen Liliʻuokalani. At the funeral of a woman who lived to be just shy of 100, I heard of how the Sisters would allow the girls at the Priory School to speak Hawaiian (outside of class) and dance hula during a time when students were punished for doing so at Kamehameha School and in the public schools. One kupuna told me that she thought hula survived partly because of the Episcopal Church's openness. Further, we have pressed for the restoration of Hawaiian in the liturgy honoring the King's translation of the BCP 1662. We have been too often connected to the aliʻi in history, but we are Hawaiian and it is a kuleana entrusted to the Church by the Holy Sovereigns to care for the spiritual well-being of all the people and the land. If you haven't seen it, please watch Grace and Beauty: 150 Years of the Episcopal Church in Hawa iʻi ( HERE ).
It also fits with the three Hawaiian values adopted as our diocesan values by the Convention in 2004: "Mana, Malama and Pono." In life, we must seek to care for creation, for one another and all that God has given us: Mā lama. We all affirm the call from God to live righteously and in respect one for another: Pono. We can affirm that all that is holy and good - the spiritual force of being comes from God: Mana. It is into such a vision of community that we can welcome all of the children of these islands. We can be a model of mālama in which we care for one another, for the hungry and lost of our islands, for the rejected and the houseless, for all God's creation - the land and the sea. We must live pono valuing right relationships with honesty and justice, respecting the dignity of every human being, seeking reconciliation with truth while rejecting violence and exploitation. Knowing that the Mana of God will work together through us for the good and peace of all.
This is not just about our history. We must embody another value that I understand to be important to the First People of these islands - "Ka lā hiki ola." We are called to look to "the dawning of a new day." The courage it took the Polynesians to sail into unknown waters guided by the stars, the clouds, the seas and the rising sun is needed today as well. By the gift of love and with guidance of God, we must live together with respect, dignity, honor, justice and peace. We must strive to make a difference in our world.
Bishop's Reflection on a Volcano and a Flood - May 10, 2018
Na ke aloha o ke Akua ma loko o Iesu Kristo, e aloha iā ʻoukou ā pau!
Years ago, when my family and I moved to Hawaiʻi, a very wise person told me: "In the Islands, you are close to heaven with newly formed mountains above, near to hell with the volcano beneath your feet, and set in the womb of creation (the ocean and the winds) teeming all around you, so you have to trust in God."
These past few weeks have been about trusting in God. How do you explain the shattering of a national rainfall record in one corner of the island of Kauaʻi? In the broad area of the Big Island, the fissures opened in a relatively isolated subdivision destroying homes and changing lives forever. Why there?
In Hawai'i, we respect nature. Living in the middle of the Ocean, we always know that human life is fragile and set in a much larger reality -- physical and spiritual. I am reminded of the words of a great teacher, Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia, in his bookWaves of God's Embrace: Sacred Perspectives from the Ocean (Canterbury Press, 2008, p.46):
The lives of ancient Oceanic people were shaped by perseverance, discoveries, excitement, huge hardship and achievement and failures in their endeavors. Life in this new context was very much shaped by and nurtured by the Oceanic world. The core of this is emerging, transforming belief and culture was their perception of the interconnectedness of the gods, the environment and life on board the vaka (double-hulled voyaging canoe). The sense of interconnectedness contributed powerfully to the formation and development of their settlement into their new environment in newly found islands. Life was about relating to fellow voyagers, to moana (the ocean) and to the sky and gods.
So, now, in a time when answers do not come easily, we to turn to God and we care for others. We are all voyagers on the holy vaka of life. We need one another. In the future, some will rebuild and others will have move to new homes. For now, we help as we can.
On the Big Island, the people and priest (the Rev. Katlin McCallister) of Holy Apostles Church, Hilo, have stepped right up. They are caring for parishioners with homes in the impacted area and for others. They are deeply involved in the community. I encourage congregations and individuals to send donations to:
The Church of the Holy Apostles
Attn: Kīlauea Relief Fund
1407 Kapi'olani Street
Hilo, Hawai'i 96720
As I wrote earlier, I encourage congregations to take collections and for individuals to make donations for those impacted by the Kauaʻi flooding sending the funds directly to Christ Memorial Episcopal Church at:
Christ Memorial Episcopal Church
Attn: Flood Response Fund
P O Box 293 Kilauea, HI 96754
We are called to help. We are also called to pray.
Compassionate God, Draw near to us in times of sorrow and anguish, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, lead us all to fullness of life, and make us into your community of love; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen
Aloha ma o Iesu Kristo, ko mākou Haku,
A Word to the Church for the World, released on September 20, 2016.
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Meet Bea Fitzpatrick, the wife of Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick! In her own blog, Bea shares some of her experiences, thoughts and pictures as she travels with her husband to congregations throughout the Diocese and beyond. Visit her blog page HERE.