THE CHANG CLERGY CHILDREN'S FUND
Several years before his death in 2017, the Rt. Rev. Richard S. O. Chang, fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i, established The Chang Clergy Children's Fund that will provide scholarship grants to children of clergy serving in the Diocese. To make a donation, click on the link below and select "The Chang Clergy Children Scholarship Fund." Thank you for your support of this fund that will continue to be a legacy of a beloved Bishop. During your online donation process, please be sure to check the box to "share your address with The Episcopal Church in Hawai'i" so that an acknowledgment and thank you may be sent to you.
Donations may also be sent by check payable to: "The Episcopal Church in Hawai'i" with a notation on the memo line to "Chang Fund." Checks may be mailed to: The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i, 229 Queen Emma Square, Honolulu, HI 96813.
The Life of The Rt. Rev. Richard S. O. Chang
The Right Reverend Richard S. O. Chang was the fourth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai‘i, serving from 1997 to 2007.
Richard Sui On Chang was born on November 30, 1941, in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, the first-born son of Flora and Dick Chang. His sister Charlotte was born exactly two years later on November 30, 1943.
He attended ‘Iolani School, an all-boys school at the time, founded by the Anglican Church. Queen Emma bestowed the name ‘Iolani which means Heavenly Bird. Early signs of Chang’s brilliant mind, leadership and organizational abilities were evident. He belonged to the National Honor Society and was the manager of the football team.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and a Master of Divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal Seminary in Berkeley, California.
On March 5, 1966, George Richard Millard, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of California, had ordained Chang to the diaconate at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco while he was completing seminary. Upon graduation, he moved back to Hawai‘i where he was the curate at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Honolulu. On September 4, 1966, then-Bishop of Hawai‘i Harry S. Kennedy, ordained him to the priesthood.
It is here at Holy Nativity where he met his future wife, Delia Morrish, who had arrived in Hawai‘i just two weeks before they met. An adventurous world traveler, “Dee” fell in love with the islands and decided to make Hawai‘i her home.
“He was Father Chang to me for over two years,” shared Dee, who was encouraged by church friends to start calling him Dick. They dated for three weeks, got engaged, and were married three months later on August 10, 1969, by Bishop Kennedy.
While serving at Holy Nativity, Chang was also the Headmaster and Chaplain of Holy Nativity School, and the head of Camp Mokule‘ia in Waialua, making the long commute almost every day.
In 1970, he was called to be the rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Kaua‘i. The Chang’s remained there until 1978, serving also as the priest-in-charge of Christ Memorial and St. Thomas, and as Kaua‘i’s archdeacon from 1970 to 1974. Their two daughters, Holly and Hannah, were born on Kaua‘i.
“We loved it there,” said Dee, “and we had just signed a contract to build our first home, when (Bishop) Ed Browning called Dick to move back to Honolulu and become his Executive Officer.”
After much coaxing, they made the move to Honolulu where he would serve as the executive officer of the diocese under the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning for the next six years.
At the 1985 General Convention, Bishop Browning, was elected the Episcopal Church’s 24th Presiding Bishop, and was installed in January 1986. He called upon Chang to be his assistant and chief operating officer. Once again, the Chang family packed up and headed to the East Coast where he served at the Episcopal Church’s national headquarters in New York for the next ten years.
With over 300 staff at headquarters, Chang oversaw the different departments and held them accountable, but took the time to get to know most of the staff members.
“He knew the names of nearly everyone who worked there, and sometimes their family’s names,” said Dee, reflecting on the genuine care he felt for people.
Chang was instrumental in helping Browning lead the Episcopal Church to implement progressive changes, advocating for female priests, minorities, AIDS victims, and the LGBTQ community.
In February 1989, he participated in the consecration of Barbara Harris, the Episcopal Church’s first black woman bishop in Massachusetts. After receiving death threats, she was encouraged to wear a bullet-proof vest during the ceremony, which she declined. However, other participants who served at the altar elected to wear a vest.
Chang helped Browning frame many of his important talks and media statements. They worked together for hours on some presentations, including one of the most notable “no outcasts” speech given by Browning at the 1985 General Convention, that would become a part of his legacy.
They also worked on rearranging the seating of the House of Bishops, who for years sat in rows with barely any interaction taking place between the attending bishops. Browning and Chang designed round tables of ten and assigned bishops to the tables so that there was a mix of young and experienced, male and female, liberal and conservative, sitting together. Time was made for discussions, and a sense of comradery was developed.
In 1996, Chang left New York to become the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Hawai’i, elected from a field of 25 candidates. He was installed at the Cathedral of St. Andrew on January 4, 1997, by Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.
Chang’s return to the islands was during a tumultuous time. His predecessor had resigned following a financial debacle that left the diocese with a $4 million debt and several outstanding lawsuits. The repercussions cost jobs, programs, and deeply affected the budgets of the then-41 parishes in Hawai‘i. Under Chang’s leadership, the diocese pulled out from under the dark cloud of debt, repaired its reputation and flourished.
He served as secretary and then vice president of the House of Bishops for six years. A strong advocate for women, Chang appointed the first female dean of the Cathedral of St. Andrew, the Rev. Ann Mc Elligott in 2002.
With a gentle, sincere and calm demeanor, many found him approachable, and children and teenagers affectionately called him “Unko (Uncle) Bishop.”
He was bestowed the Hawaiian name “Kaneomanakapulani” for establishing a Feast Day in the Episcopal Church for the work of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, observed during the month of November. The name was given to him by Edna Pualani Farden Bekeart, a member of the distinguished Farden family of Lahaina, who were prolific writers of Hawaiian contemporary music. Bekeart taught at Holy Nativity when Chang served there.
Chang faced the divisive issue of the treatment of homosexuals which threatened to divide the church. In June 2003, when the Diocese of New Hampshire elected its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, the news caused a crisis in the Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion. A few months later, the Anglican Primates held an emergency meeting issuing its final communiqué that included a warning that if Robinson’s consecration proceeded, it would "tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest level." [Anglican Communion News Service, November 3, 2003]
The highly charged issue rippled throughout the Episcopal Church, dividing dioceses and parishes, but the decision to move forward was steadfast.
Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, who succeeded Chang after his retirement in 2007, was quoted in an article in the StarAdvertiser [September 7, 2017], “he restored the diocese to a sound financial footing, but more importantly he re-established the sense of integrity and responsible leadership. The two words that most come mind when I think of Dick are integrity and faithfulness. He was always humble and calm.”
On August 30, 2017, Richard Chang died after a brief illness, and was laid to rest next to his friend, mentor and fellow New York Yankees fan, Edmond Browning, in the Cathedral of St. Andrew’s Columbarium on September 17, 2017. Hundreds packed the Cathedral, paying their respects to a man who left an indelible mark in the Episcopal Church. (E-Chronicle, October 2017)
He is survived by his wife Delia (Dee), daughter Holly and Rich Nagatoshi, daughter Hannah and Jim Clifford, four grandchildren and his sister Charlotte Tomita.
The Tribute to Bishop Chang video was presented at the 49th Annual Meeting of Convention of the Diocese of Hawai'i, October 21, 2017. (Written and Produced by Sybil Nishioka)
Slideshow of Bishop Chang's funeral service held at The Cathedral of St. Andrew, Honolulu, on September 17, 2017. (Photos by Sybil Nishioka)
In 2000, Bishop Chang called me to be his assistant. I then became his successor as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaiʻi in 2007.