The Hawaii District: Faithfully following Christ
*Nan McCurdy and Miguel Mairena
As mission advocates for the Western Jurisdiction we had the opportunity to learn, share, preach and promote participation in global missions with the Hawaii District from February 25 to March 8 of this year. One of the five Districts of the California-Pacific Conference, the Hawaii District includes 40 congregations in the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, and Saipan. Their vision statement, “Inspiring the world as passionate followers of Jesus Christ so that all may experience God’s life-giving love,” rings true to our experience.
The congregations are multi-ethnic and many of the churches cross artificial borders through joining together with other faiths to work on issues that can show God’s love to others.
Nan and Miguel, the youth and young adults at Aiea Korean UMC. Photo: Nan and Miguel
The district superintendent, Rev. Dr. Sehee Han, grew up in a Korean Methodist family and helped pave the way for Korean women pastors in the 1980s. She served at many California-Pacific mainland churches, then was called to Hawaii to serve as district superintendent in 2015. She clearly cares very much for the churches, the people and the ministries—and she works constantly.
The churches in this district support Global Ministries missionaries and the district has the highest per person missionary giving in the conference—many support two or more missionaries. They also actively support the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and a variety of Advance mission programs around the world.
We were privileged to stay at Harris United Methodist Church, which has covenant relationships with three missionaries. Their congregation is full of God’s love and their members are committed to justice and compassion. They are involved with local issues, such as housing for people who are without a place to live, and have a weekly meal program. As one of two reconciling churches in the district, they share their work with many other churches so that they might be better able to show God’s love to all.
Miguel preaching at Harris UMC Honolulu.
Photo: Nan and Miguel
The people of Harris UMC are in the process of discerning whether to become sanctuary church for undocumented immigrants at a time when U.S. policies are terrifying immigrants and splitting families. This May they will help other Hawaiian churches explore what it means to become a sanctuary church by hosting an in-depth workshop. Harris UMC may well be the first official United Methodist sanctuary church in the California-Pacific Conference
Aiea Korean UMC supports many missionaries around the world and has a large active group of youths led by young passionate pastors and laypersons. The youth want to go on a mission trip abroad. Their ministries with Korean-US citizens and Korean immigrants have gone so well that they are reaching out to the community with an English language ministry called “Renew.” One of their pastors is also a Spanish-speaker.
First UMC in downtown Honolulu has 350, most of whom have a Tongan background. The congregations show God’s love to others in so many ways Their youth and young adults are in ministry out in the community getting to know people without homes and sharing food through what they call “passing the peace.” This congregation also has a strong legal aid program for immigrants.
Tongan youth and young adults at First UMC Honolulu. Photo by Nan and Miguel
The Community has many choices for worshiping and learning from committed Christians who put their faith into practice in concrete Christ-centered ways. The spirit of “Aloha” comes through in the love and justice expressed through their Hawaiian churches.
*Nan McCurdy and Miguel Mairena, Global Ministries missionaries, serve as the Western Jurisdiction Mission Advocates