Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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An estimated 24,000 delegates from 11 countries, mostly in Asia and South America, are slated to attend an international convention of Jehovah's Witnesses spanning two weekends this month at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

One of the oldest Chinese congregations in Hawaii, St. Peter's boasts a wealth of cooks who mastered their culinary craft while satisfying family appetites for decades, said the Rev. Diane Martinson.

Taking care of her grandmother as she succumbed to cancer more than three decades ago inspired Leilani Kupahu-Marinoto learn how to help others cope with the process of dying and impacts linked to death.

Nightly, at least a half-dozen homeless people are finding a corner to sleep on the grounds at Makiki Christian Church. They're admitted on a case-by-case basis, said Wayne Ibara, the church's senior pastor.

Most people are a bit scared by erratic or unusual behavior and might be reluctant to approach someone displaying it, whether it's a homeless person or a member of their church.

Every once in a while the demise of Buddhism in Hawaii and what to do about it comes up among religion scholars and temple leaders who look at dwindling attendance and aging membership.

Spread out the feast, pour the best whiskey, light the incense and burn plenty of gold paper ingots for your family's ancestors during the Ching Ming season. If you neglect to do so, their spirits might come back to haunt you.

For years James Au refrained from taking part in a Chinese ancestor veneration ritual held in graveyards during annual Ching Ming festivals because he felt it conflicted with his Christian beliefs.

Giving up chocolate or taking on more Bible study during Lent are common sacrifices for Christians during 40 days of penitence building up to Easter. Sacrifices of treats and time take willpower.

Some local Hawaiian leaders maintain that traditional concepts tied to dealing with lawbreakers have a place in modern prison rehabilitation efforts. Puuhonua were sacred places of refuge in ancient Hawaii, where warriors and others who had broken kapu could gain sanctuary and pardon.

With emotional, often rancorous debate hitting a climax this week at the state Capitol as legislators considered granting same-sex couples in Hawaii the right to marry, the essence of the argument has centered on what some consider a sacred definition of traditional marriage.

Hawaii leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraging members to urge state lawmakers to exempt the church from any potential obligation tied to the proposed marriage equity bill.

State Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), a practicing Catholic, is putting his personal religious beliefs aside to support a proposal for same-sex marriage, which he maintains is a matter rooted in equality and fairness.

Rosh Hashana begins the solemn observance of the Jewish New Year at sunset Wednesday and concludes with Yom Kippur on Sept. 14, a period of deep self-examination and making things right with one's fellow man and God.

Jesus Christ may have dined at the same table with prostitutes and tax collectors and embraced them in love, but he never condoned their behavior, says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hono­lulu's Bishop Larry Silva.

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More than half of adults in Hawaii say religion is important in their lives, and almost everyone identifies with one religion or another, according to a survey conducted by a local research and marketing firm.

Kalihi Union Church rose from the destruction of Hono­lulu's Great Chinatown Fire of 1900, which wiped out the bubonic plague as intended and took with it the rat-infested squalor where early immigrants lived when it burned out of control.

Since Ramadan began a few weeks ago, Samah Nasser has been getting Muslim children to associate their holiest month of the year with having fun, not just fasting.

The national conversation about racial stereotyping triggered by the Florida trial over the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin might benefit from going through the same steps of reconciliation that Hawaii residents must take to finally achieve peace over the toppling of the Hawaiian kingdom, said one organizer of the Hawaii Forgiveness Project.

The Buddhist ceremony of floating lanterns on water to light the way for ancestral spirits journeying to the afterlife is well known by Hawaii residents. Less familiar is the ritual that greets these spirits for the start of obon season.

Harris United Methodist Church started out 125 years ago as a place of solace, where many of Hawaii's first Japa­nese immigrants sought respite from the plantations' backbreaking lifestyle.

A student of dance since she was 3, Ashley Yee nevertheless was determined to become a lawyer so she could make a lot of money — until she discovered pre-law classes weren't much fun.

South African activist and theologian Allan A. Boesak urged a group of ecumenical church leaders this week to be more outspoken against inequities between the rich and poor, with particular remarks about reconciliation efforts toward Native Hawaiians.

Pastor Elwin Ahu was turned down flat the first few times he asked his son to help him get a new church off the ground at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Say "handbells" and people usually think of Salvation Army volunteers ringing away while collecting Christmas donations. Lee Skoda, a ringer with the Mele Mai Paki Lima Community Handbell Choir, said making music with handbells is a lot more complex than that.

Trinity Missionary Baptist Church is holding its first health fair today, aimed at helping homeless people, many of whom go without basic health care services.

Christians celebrate this Sunday as Trinity Sunday to honor the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all considered one God — a concept that is difficult to understand and one rebutted by different sects and denominations.

Religious fanaticism has been cited as a possible motivating factor in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, but fundamentalists who take a literal approach to Scripture are warping theology to justify other needs, said Tamara Albertini, a University of Hawaii associate professor who is writing a book on Islamic philosophy.

Ministers who take care of everyone's needs but their own often end up needing ministering themselves.

The Chinese Buddhist Association of Hawaii, known for its ornate green-and-red Hsu Yun Temple in Nuuanu, celebrated its 60th anniversary by bringing in 16 monks from China to carry out elaborate ceremonies every day this week.

The death of a loved one is a fork-in-the-road opportunity, advises a national speaker and writer on the mourning process.

A year after her daughter died of a sudden cardiac arrest in 2009 at age 28, Sharon Maekawa started the Hawaii Heart Foundation to teach others to save lives with CPR.

The 40 days of Lent conclude at dusk today, Holy Saturday, but before anyone celebrates the end of his or her self-imposed deprivation by breaking into a chocolate Easter bunny, there's still a vigil of mourning to be observed in the hours of darkness before Easter Sunday.

Sixty-three faith congregations on Oahu took in 116 homeless parents and children from off the streets last year, feeding them and helping them get back on their feet until they found stable places to live.

Some Catholics are hoping that Pope Francis' empathy for the poor and his advocacy for social justice as a Jesuit priest might take the focus off hot-button political issues in which the Roman Catholic Church has become embroiled, says the Rev. Jack Ryan, who once conducted the diocese's only Spanish-language Masses on Oahu and Hawaii island.

Christian Holy Week events this month begin with Palm Sunday on March 24 to celebrate the entrance of Jesus Christ into Jeru­salem, and culminate in the observance of his resurrection on Easter Sunday, March 31.

The Diocese of Hono­lulu remains tight-lipped on recent lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and teachers in Hawaii, but its general response to nationwide scandals that surfaced in the past 10 years has been to acknowledge that violations have occurred, and to offer support to the victims.

Spending one-on-one time with a priest in the confession booth used to be a weekly habit of devoted Catholics 40 years ago, but now the norm is attending communal penance services twice a year during the current Lent season and Advent before Christmas.

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was on the minds of 75 Saint Francis School seniors Thursday at "Bagels with the Bishop," a series of breakfast chats between Catholic school seniors statewide and Hono­lulu Bishop Larry Silva.

Sporting gold-trimmed purple robes and a broad smile, the Rev. David Gierlach stood on a bustling Chinatown street corner Wednesday, offering passers-by the rite of having black ash smeared on their foreheads.

Oahu churches will take up the subject of climate change at two events this month.

People with disabilities may not be able to read, hear or understand the word of God, but they still have spiritual needs that aren't met by many churches.

Rabbi Peter Schaktman, whose departure from Temple Emanu-El of Honolulu in September was the result of conflicts that divided the Jewish congregation, is offering an alternative place of worship and study on Saturday mornings for people who left the temple.

The Kailua Hongwanji Mission hopes to begin construction next month on a new temple at its current location on Kuu­lei Road to better serve members and to provide day care to senior citizens.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the pope's representative to the United States, will be among those attending the final tribute today to the canonization of St. Marianne Cope in Kalaupapa, Molokai.

Church of the Crossroads and St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church are inviting the public to free events Jan. 21 to honor civil rights champion the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Catholic Diocese of Hono­lulu announced it will install photovoltaic electricity systems at 22 parishes and St. Stephen Diocesan Center.

New Hope Windward's annual Christmas production, which brought 90 performers and support staff to the Kailua women's prison Wednesday evening, restores hope in those behind bars who feel society has forgotten them, inmates say.

Lisia Talakai has been running around telling everyone at the Women's Community Correctional Center that she will get to celebrate Christmas with her son for the first time in 13 years, thanks to the "Star Light, Star Bright!" Christmas program.

Chabad of Hawaii, Temple Emanu-El Hono­lulu and Congregation Sof Ma'arav will hold their annual Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, celebrations over eight days beginning on the eve of Dec. 8. There will also be a community event on Maui.

Sponsors of the 51st annual Nuuanu Valley Interfaith Thanksgiving this year found in U.S. Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard a keynote speaker whose core values of diversity, unity and service to others are shared by many religions.

When King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma invited the Anglican Church to Hawaii 150 years ago, they wanted to establish a church that not only honored Jesus Christ, but one that respected Hawaiian culture and met the needs of its multi-ethnic community.

Maryknoll Sister Joanne Doi of Los Angeles will be the keynote speaker for "Transformative Journeys Towards Wellness," Oct. 13 at the Community Church of Hono­lulu, sponsored by the Sunrise Ministry Foundation.

The public is invited to celebrate the 143rd birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and the International Day of Non-Violence on Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Gandhi statue outside the Hono­lulu Zoo in Waikiki.

Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii is holding its 106th annual Thanksgiving Festival (Oma­tsuri) at 12:45 p.m. Oct. 7 for blessings on families, businesses and the nation at 215 N. Kukui St., across from the Chinese Cultural Plaza. The public is welcome.

Visiting Rabbi Steven Chester will lead Yom Kippur services next week at Temple Emanu-El to mark the end of the High Holy Days — a 10-day period of repentance, forgiveness and judgement by God — that began Sunday with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

The Pacific Buddhist Academy will recognize inspirational people and organizations that exemplify the leadership principles and values taught at the college preparatory school at its annual "Lighting Our Way" Awards Dinner on Sept. 28.

Bishop Randolph Sykes, a leader in Hawaii's interfaith movement, says people need to take action in their personal lives to be part of a solution to global problems.

The founders of a new Honolulu Grassroots Zen group set to open in Aina Haina next month are offering a laid-back, democratic way of practicing Buddhist meditation without using a big stick.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. » Muslims in the Tennessee city of Murfreesboro said Friday they hope the opening of their new mosque after more than two years of controversy will be a new beginning for relations with the community, particularly their opponents.

Volunteers for Hawaii's inaugural "Day of Compassion" last year say they were left with indelible impressions of how people were touched by the giant giveaway of food and services, moving them to help again.

Ever since the Rev. Rodney Wong of CrossCurrent Fellowship in Manoa went to Oahu Community Correctional Center to bring comfort to inmates three years ago, he has been committed to serving behind bars.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a noted advocate for peace and justice, will participate in five events in Hono­lulu in August at the invitation of the Episcopal Church's Cathedral of Saint Andrew, the church announced Friday.

An award-winning play about Hawaii's first saint, Damien de Veuster, will be revived at Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus July 28 and 29 by the Manoa Readers/Theatre Ensemble.

After 35 years as music minister for Church of the Crossroads in Moiliili, Don Conover is leaving a job he has loved and will venture down new avenues as a professional entertainer.

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