Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bishop's Photos & Events: 2011 - 2012

July 2012

Bishop Randolph Sykes meets Nobel Laureate Archbishop Tutu

Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and a 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, participated in an interfaith service in Honolulu at the invitation of the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Andrew, the Very Reverend Walter B.A. Brownridge.

The leaders of many faiths and denominations that practice in Hawaii joined with Archbishop Tutu, who is standing in row 1 above on the far left with Honpa Hongwanji Bishop Eric Matsumoto, attended an Interfaith Prayer Service, held on Sunday, August 5, 2012 at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Andrew. Bishop Sykes is standing in row 2 far right along side of Hawaii's Episcopal Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick and the Cathedral's Dean Walter Brownridge. The service included special guest choirs, Kawaiolaonapukanileo, Kawaiaha'o Church Choir and Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus and the choirs sang the Kamehameha IV Evening Service by Hawaii composer, John McCreary.

November 2011

IOC Bishops attend Ecumenical Service to protest APEC 2011 Conference

FACE [Faith Action for Community Equity] sponsored an “Equity Summit and Interfaith Service” during the first week of November, 2011 that was held to keep the Christian churches in Hawaii mindful of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference that was held later that month in Honolulu and hosted by President Barack Obama.  Bishops Daniel Dahl and Randolph Sykes both attended the interfaith service that was on Monday, November 7, 2011 at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Catholic Church in Honolulu. This interfaith service focused on lifting up a Pacific-centered theological vision in contrast with the profit-centered Wall Street vision which was the focus of APEC held in Honolulu.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bishop addresses The Interfaith Alliance Hawai’i Tenth Annual Community Awards Dinner

Bishop Randolph Sykes gave his first address as President of The Interfaith Alliance Hawai’i (TIAH) Tenth annual Community Awards Celebration and Dinner before several hundred of the inter-faith ohana and community guests this past Sunday, November 18, 2012, which was held through the courtesy of Honpa Hongwanji Hawai’i Betsuin in their temple hall. Bishop was recently elected to serve as TIAH president.

President's Annual Message by Bishop Randolph Sykes:

Aloha kakou,

Welcome, again, to The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii’s Tenth Annual Community Awards Celebration and Dinner. We are grateful for your participation with us this evening as we honor both those who serve our community and have an opportunity to gather with friends. Before I begin my report, there are several people whose tireless efforts over a good number of years have made tonight’s event possible.

First and foremost, the Reverend Doctor John Heidel who, until this year, served as our president and continues to mentor us as we move forward. John’s role has been one of an outstanding leader, competent counselor, generous benefactor, and good friend. We will never be able to thank him sufficiently for the excellent work that he has done. Thank you, John.

Next, I ask that – especially tonight – you keep the Reverend Sam Cox and his wife, Rima, in your hearts and thoughts. Sam, who has been a cornerstone of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii cannot be with us this evening. Many of you know that Rima is in hospice and Sam indicated to me this morning that she is at the stage of “letting go.” Please keep her and Sam, and their family, in your prayers.

Lastly, I thank Jade Young, Cecilia Fordham, Joan Chatfield, Paul Gracie, Alan Goto, Renie Wong Lindley, Rob Kinslow, and all of our board members whose efforts have made this wonderful evening possible. Thanks to all.

The title of my remarks this evening indicates that I am to give the annual report about the activities of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii. In fact, the key activities we held and in which we participated are listed in tonight’s program. And, I ask that you peruse them at your leisure.

Rather, I want to focus my comments on The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii’s future. Tonight is not only the tenth anniversary of these awards but 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii. While our organization may be considered a successor to the earlier Hawaii Council of Churches, it was in 2002 that The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii was formally incorporated.

We have come a long way in seeking to unite the various spiritual and faith traditions that are found in Hawaii in a very special way. Since, as a society, Hawaii is a majority of minorities as well as a series of islands, there is an inherent camaraderie and insular character that makes those of us who live here work at getting along. That is not always to say that everything runs smoothly and we are all one in our thoughts and emotions over various issues. However, when pressed, our neighbors and friends are much more easy to identify.

As an organization whose focus is on social justice, equality, and freedom for all persons, The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii has been at the forefront in the movement for living wages, especially in the visitor industry; civil rights, principally regarding Hawaiian sovereignty, the union of same-sex couples, and the care of those caught up in the violence of our prison system. The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii also provides spiritual enrichment opportunities to the community through co-sponsoring events, such as the Sunrise Ministry Foundation’s recent Journeys to Wellness workshop, All Believers Network’s Annual Symposium From Conflict to Consensus: The Aloha Spirit (Japanese Style), as well as by participating in the President Grover Cleveland-Liliuokalani Lectures. We participate regularly in the ecumenical services sponsored by our host this evening, the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, at its annual Call for Peace; those of the Faith Action for Community Equity, such as that held during the APEC Conference and, earlier this month honoring teachers; and by the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii honoring Archbishop Desmond Tutu. These are just some examples of how The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii contributes to our community and supports its many faith and spiritual traditions.

As we move into our second decade, I envision that The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii will continue to focus on these issues and more. Especially during these troubled times of Depression-Era like financial turmoil, global climate change, and continuing wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, people of faith must be at the forefront of the social issues that result from and perpetuate these inequities. Many of them have or can have impacts directly in Hawaii. And, I am reminded frequently of Buckminster Fuller’s dictum to “Think globally and act locally.”

• Hawaii’s families continue to struggle to make a living wage. Costs continue to rise and, given the devastation of crops in many countries including the United States, we will see food shortages and starvation on a scale that many may find unimaginable.

• Hawaii has thousands of houseless people including families with children as well as single people. All it takes is a drive out to the Waianae Coast to get a view of the magnitude of the problem. The houseless are everywhere and no community wants to take responsibility for making room for them in their backyard, as the saying goes.

How can The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii be part of the solution to ensure that those in our community have food and shelter and, importantly, ensure that the children receive medical and educational assistance that will help them grow to be adults who are able to offer a better start in life than their parents are today? In most cases, what today’s houseless are facing is a fact that it is too expensive for many working parents to afford housing. We have thousands of empty condominiums that are owned by persons from the Mainland, Asia, and elsewhere who are able to afford the high cost of maintaining a second home while providing affordable housing is, for most developers, a pain in the okole, to be blunt. We import more than 90% of our food but are giving away our prime agricultural land to developers to put up more high-cost housing. Oil prices are near record levels and that has a direct impact on both the cost and availability of food.

• In 2009, the Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsored an intergovernmental study of the impact of a Category Four hurricane coming ashore at Ewa. Many do not yet realize how much more common global climate variability will increase sea levels and the likelihood of catastrophic storms. In that scenario, it was estimated that Oahu would loose 80% of its housing stock and all of our hurricane shelters have been built only to withstand a Category Two storm. In that time of catastrophe we would need to evacuate approximately 80,000 visitors and more than a quarter million “at risk” people with disabilities with needs for power and supplies that we would be unable to provide. It could take three months or more to get electricity back to all who need it. Our closest base of supply would be the West Coast.

• Hawaii’s economic engine is Waikiki. Scientists at the University of Hawaii are predicting that by 2100, the sea level will rise between three and just over six feet. There is already flooding around many parts of the island during high tides. Very sophisticated maps have been developed that show clearly where water will replace dry land, and not all of it is at shoreline. While it is not an immediate worry, the longer we take to begin addressing how we as a community will adapt to the coming changes requires the courage, creativity, and commitment of today’s leaders, not those six or seven mayors from now, to begin determining how best to mitigate the affects on Hawaii. Australia, as an example, has already developed and is moving forward with a plan that is abandoning entire swaths of prime beachfront communities because it is more cost effective to the taxpayer to develop strategic alternatives in areas that will not be inundated.

This will mean a major change in our current lifestyle and how attractive Hawaii is to visitors.
What role will The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii play in the education of our communities about the facts of the global changes that will, over time, affect us as dramatically as any catastrophic earthquake or tsunami? How will we help communities develop resiliency and bring forth leaders who do have the courage to do what today’s leaders lack. How will we help people cope with the changes to the world as it is today? How will we help people envision a world of tomorrow that continues to foster care and cooperation, recovery from displacement, and interfaith harmony?

• Thousands of citizens still lack equal rights, especially disenfranchised are the Native Hawaiians; women whose “equal rights” were never made part of our Nation’s constitution and whose ability to control their own reproductive rights are constantly challenged; children who are psychologically, physically, and sexually abused with a regularity that shocks anyone with a conscience; and homosexuals, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers whose ability to express their personal love relationships is far from settled.

• Thousands of citizens who are Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, American Indians, Blacks, Asians, and others suffer from discrimination and acts of hatred and violence on a regular and systematic basis. The mass slaughters of people in temples, churches, synagogues, and even movie theaters or by missiles launched across the Middle East is an unconscionable sin. Most of the victims are innocent and many are women and children.

What will The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii do to bring civility back to civilization? What will we do to foster human rights? What will we do to stop the terror that feels as if it is overwhelming us? These are significant questions that deserve our focused attention and deep commitment to assist in resolving.

As we move into our second decade, we have much work to do. We need to be a vital force in our community speaking out wisely but strongly against injustice, inequality, and violence. We need to influence our elected leaders to take positions of courage and to demonstrate the political will that is necessary to ensure that the lives of our children will, in fact, be better than our own. We need to be active in whatever way allows us to do locally what can be done to better the world globally. Mahalo!

Bishop Dan Dahl also attended the TIAH Awards Dinner.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Queen Lili'uokalani Ecumenical Address by Bishop Randolph Sykes given at 'Iolani Palace, Honolulu

Bishop Stephen Randolph Sykes speaking to the Hawaiian Community and
O‘ahu Residents as the President of The Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i

The Most Reverend Stephen Randolph Sykes' address and blessing given to the ‘Onipa‘a Celebration on the birthday of Hawai‘i's last monarch, Her Majesty, Queen Lili‘uokalani, as follows:

Aloha kākou. It was my privilege several days ago to be among those who went to Mauna ‘Ala – the Fragrant Mountain – to visit Queen Lili‘uokalani’s grave with George Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland’s grandson, and to offer prayers and ho‘okupu. When I spoke that day in the chapel, I recalled that the last time I had been at Mauna ‘Ala was to visit with Kahu Lydia Namahana Mai‘olo. For several years, when I would come over to Honolulu from my home in Ha‘ena on Kaua‘i, we would talk about the ali‘i and old Hawai‘i. At that time, one of my monastic brothers and I were writing stories about the ancient high chiefs for both Spirit of Aloha and Kauai Magazine. While she reminisced I often got “chicken skin” from how she made each event seem as if it had just happened and to hear stories she shared from her father and others in her family as well as the many ali‘i from by-gone days.

As you know, the kahu of the royal ‘iwi was selected by Kamehameha the Great. The story she told me was that one day he called for his chiefs to come right away and only two dropped what they were doing and went immediately to the Alii Nui. The others took their time, cleaned themselves up, and got dressed up first. One of the two who came quickly was Namahana's great grandfather who appears as one of the two personages on the insignia of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Kamehameha selected Ho‘olulu to hide his bones so that they would remain a source of mana for the ali‘i and not be plundered by foreigners.

Namahana shared wonderful stories. On one of my visits, she told me about a private visit Queen Lili‘uokalani had made to Mauna ‘Ala shortly after becoming Queen. In those days, long before the current crypt was dug, the caskets of the kings and queens were kept in what is now the chapel at Mauna ‘Ala. Queen Lili‘uokalani came to visit her brother, King Kalākaua, who had actually passed to God in San Francisco. He was the first ali‘i to be embalmed. She said the Queen asked that the casket be opened.

Several hundred persons attended the day long event to celebrate the
175th Birthday of Queen Lili‘uokalani at ‘Iolani Palace

No one stayed with her. Lili‘uokalani was left alone. She spent several hours with Kalākaua. Of course, she was also with Kap‘iolani and the sacred ‘iwi of the other ali‘i in the silence of the chapel. I have often reflected on what that time must have meant for the Queen. What would it be like to visit one's royal ancestors so intimately? What did she think about? What was it she may have said, either to herself or out loud? What was it she heard? Did she gain perspectives that enlightened her? Were her memories ones of happiness or ones of melancholy?

We know of her sense of duty to her people and that she would need to make very important decisions that would take a turn not imagined at the time. She governed a kingdom that was recognized internationally and that held treaties with the greatest powers in the world at the time. She was a constitutional monarch whose ability to govern had been compromised by the Bayonet Constitution of 1877 . She was determined to protect her people against the encroachment of foreign interests that were overtaking the country and bringing about injustices that hurt the citizens of her sovereign nation most deeply. And, her subjects supported her and loved her.

Lili‘uokalani was a woman of great moral integrity. She was deeply spiritual. She understood that duty came above personal concerns. She firmly believed that truth and righteousness would prevail against any odds.

That brings me back to her time at Mauna ‘Ala with the ‘iwi of Kalākaua. It must have been a time when she called on the mana of her ancestors to join with God’s Holy Spirit to guide her and give her strength. When we read her writings and listen to the lyrics of her songs, we hear the voice of “one crying in the wilderness”: make ours the straight pathway that leads to God. Be pono. kanaka; stand tall. In the face of adversity show love and be caring of those who are in need. Her aloha extended to many and she was accepting of not only Christians but also of Buddhists and others who brought their religions and spiritual traditions to Hawaii from far-away lands. By her example we know that she had an open heart.

We know, too, that she was determined that despite her plight, her suffering, and imprisonment, that no one’s blood should be shed in seeking to restore what was taken. In many ways, she prefigured the way of Gandhi and others who follow the path of non-violence. That is not to say that she was passive and indifferent. On the contrary, her letters to President Cleveland asked that truth prevail, and the findings of the Blount Commission supported her position. It is indeed unfortunate that, like so much in world history, the times were such that forces she could not control would prevail. 119 years after the overthrow, she and we are still waiting for the United States to return sovereignty to the Hawaiian Kingdom. Her concern was always for the good of her people.

His Grace, Bishop Sykes pictured with
Kahu Kordell Kekoa, Chaplain of Kamehameha Schools,
Kahu Umi'ali'loa Sexton, Waimanalo Hawaiian Church and
Kahu Curt Pa'alua Kekuna, Kawaiaha'o Church

Today, as we celebrate her birthday, we must remember her graciousness, her hopes, and keep alive the goal that justice and reconciliation result in the return of the Hawaiian Kingdom to her people. We must also recognize that we are a country where we are a majority of minorities, and persevere in living the aloha that such diversity allows. That is the gift that our Queen gave us and we are obliged to respect and carry on her generosity.

On behalf of The Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i, of which I am President, and the many religious and spiritual traditions that make up the fabric of Hawai‘i today, I wish you peace, good health, and happiness. As Orthodox Bishop of Hawai‘i of the Inclusive Orthodox Church,

E pule kakou [let us pray]: O God, send forth Your Spirit upon these islands and to those who stand with us today as we recall the birth of our beloved Queen Lili‘uokalani. Thank You for giving her to us as an example of one whose actions affirm Your Son’s teaching that we love and pray for those who have done us harm. My we be strengthened by her resolve to be pono, to be respectful and show courage. Makualani, restore not only the hope of the Hawaiian people but also their Kingdom and their lands. Reconcile our nations and open the hearts of those who fear restoration and reconciliation. We thank you for keeping us in Your Light that we may always love and serve one another. Help us and guide us as we face these difficult times. Give us good health. Bless us, our children, and our children’s children, that Your Wisdom and Comfort may ever be our strength and joy. Amene. ‘Amama ‘amama, ua noa.

Bishop Sykes pictured with the 'Onipa'a Coordinator and
George Cleveland, Grandson of the late President Grover Cleveland.
Bishop was accompanied by His Grace, Bp. Daniel as Chaplain.