Wednesday, April 16, 2014         

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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.

The weeklong holiday of Passover, also called Pesach, recalls liberation from slavery in Egypt 3,000 years ago with a mix of sober storytelling and merrymaking tied to a Seder service.

Four people who stood up in front of hundreds of their classmates to admit they were bullies and vow to stop intimidating others were warmly applauded Thursday at a Kala­heo High School assembly.

Some 2,500 grade school students from all over Oahu learned that bullying is a form of violence and how to help stop it Thursday at the first Student Anti-Bullying and Violence Convention, held by the nonprofit Adult Friends for Youth.

Sarah Beppu's son Dylan has a form of autism, which she said kept her from taking him to Mass. "He would inevitably have a meltdown," she said. "The smells of incense were too much, the music too loud, and he couldn't relate to anything."

Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Cali­for­nia-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, a national spokes­woman for immigration reform, will be preaching at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Pearl City.

Australian-born evangelist Nick Vuji­cic, who was born without arms or legs, will be taking his anti-bullying message to schools and other venues on Kauai and Oahu this week.

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.

The Faith in Action Diocesan Drama Community of the Roman Catho­lic Diocese of Hono­lulu will stage "The Passion of Christ," a two-act play on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, at Windward Community College's Paliku Theatre.

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.

The Cathedral of St. Andrew begins the season of Lent and its weekly Wednesday Lenten program with the 2014 Margaret "Peggy" Kai Memorial lecture "In at the Deep End: Exploring the Spirituality of Mission."

Four decades ago Jose Antonio Abreu began the "El Sistema" program with 11 children living in poverty. Today 500,000 youngsters are inspired yearly in that country as well as other youth across the globe.

The Bible Institute of Hawaii is presenting "Evidence of Life Beyond the Grave" at its ninth annual Hawaii Apologetics Conference at Kalihi Union Church, 2214 N. King St.

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved spoke at Temple Emanu-El this week about what he contends are "big lies" perpetuated by the media and critics of Israel's attempts at negotiating peace with Arab countries.

A bill aimed at preventing the state from passing laws that substantially burden religious exercise will likely not receive a hearing in the state House this session.

Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii today is honoring five winners of its annual Living Treasures of Hawaii honors, which recognize people in Hawaii who demonstrate excellence in their individual areas of endeavor and enrich society with their contributions.

Last fall Kari Adams, a rising high school soccer star, was running up and down practice fields and approaching the seventh month of pregnancy before she found out she was carrying a baby. Given her upbringing as a Catho­lic, Kari said, "I never thought of having an abortion."

Michael Medved, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and well-known movie reviewer, will speak about Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

"The Tao of Aloha" Symposium, a series featuring tai ji (tai chi) master and dancer Chungliang Al Huang, will be held Feb. 12 through 14. Huang began to compare the tai ji philosophy with the movements of hula throughout many summer seminars in Hawaii.

The event aims to help health care professionals, social workers, caregivers and others find meaning and wisdom in caring for someone with a terminal illness or in dealing with the death of a loved one.

A coalition of progressive interfaith leaders who took a stand for marriage equality in Hawaii last year is formalizing its intention to further affect state lawmaking, now focusing on meeting basic human needs such as food, shelter and education.

While the congregation at Unity Church of Hawaii accepts that their pastor has moved on to his "next big adventure" in eternity, many members are still stunned by the sudden death of the Rev. Sky Liko St. John, said Margie Hyatt, acting head minister of the Diamond Head church.

Central Union Church in Honolulu passed a resolution Sunday supporting marriage equality that also urges local faith congregations to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in their facilities.

In 1952, a few years before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s name became synonymous with the civil rights movement, Samuel Eugene Cox took part in his first demonstration against segregation in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Larry Silva of the Catho­lic Diocese of Hono­lulu has invited nearly 100 Christian church leaders, as well as the public, to join him in a "Taize Prayer around the Cross" at 7 p.m. Friday at the University of Hawaii's Newman Center/Holy Spirit Parish.

Life lessons acquired before one's spirit evolves into something as beautiful and free as a butterfly are known as "caterpillar wisdom," according to Religious Science teachings.

St. John Vianney parish in Kailua is hosting its fourth "Breakfast with the Bishop" on Jan. 19 as a fundraiser for its school at 920 Keolu Drive.

In Japan, millions of people flock to Shinto shrines for New Year's blessings called "Hatsumode." In Hawaii, people of all sorts of backgrounds and faiths also take part in the custom during the first three days of the new year.

Raw. Relevant. Actionable. That's how Ka‘ala Souza, a Christian evangelist and Oahu business consultant, describes "The 3-Minute Message," a video he offers daily as a means to spreading the gospel.

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, a nine-week course offering practical tools to gain long-term financial stability and success, will get underway next month at two churches on Oahu and one on Hawaii island.

Tis the season to be jolly, but grief, financial hardship and illness don't follow a calendar. For those in no mood to be merry, a "Blue Christmas" service offers a way to help lose the blues.

The Cathedral of St. Andrew is dedicating Sunday's choral evensong service to the memory of Nelson Mandela, the first black South African democratically elected as president of his country.

For Rabbi Mendy Krasnjansky, Hanukkah was always the most fun of the Jewish holidays when he was growing up because he would receive toys and chocolate candy coins (gelt) and eat lots of jelly doughnuts.

The Hawaii Sacred Choir, composed of both children and adults -- ranging in age from 7 to 73 -- will perform a free concert at 3 p.

The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah usually occurs close to Christmas, but this year the first full day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving -- Nov. 28 -- a once-in-a-lifetime overlap.

While growing up in a small town in Kauai, the Rev. Norma Nomura DeSaegher was told, both at church and in her home, that homosexuality was wrong.

An interfaith community gathering to celebrate Gov. Neil Abercrombie's signing of Hawaii's marriage equality bill -- known as Senate Bill 1 -- into law is set for Nov. 23 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew.

Prajwal Ratna Vajra­charya, a Nepalese priest of one of the Vajrayana Buddhist lineages, will hold various workshops in Hono­lulu this week in addition to making appearances at Kapiolani Community College for International Education Week.

Envision a Christian church service during which participants may leave the pews to visit several prayer stations around the sanctuary, light candles and linger to say personal prayers, or meditate while seated on floor cushions.

An effort to become a more viable, welcoming church might include replacing the old straight-backed wooden pews at the Parish of St. Clement in Makiki with individual, upholstered chairs that can be configured in cozier arrangements.

The religious exemption of the marriage equality bill now being drafted by the Hawaii Legislature will do little to protect the religious freedom of churches and individuals who believe homosexuality is a sin, says the Rev. Allen Cardines of the Hope Chapel Nanakuli church, and a major organizer of various Christian community groups.

The annual International Day of Nonviolence and birthday celebration of Mohandas Gandhi, pioneer of the strategy of nonviolent civil disobedience and leader of Indian independence, will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Gandhi statue at Kapiolani Park, adjacent to the Hono­lulu Zoo entrance.

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.

Ho‘omana Na‘auao ‘O Hawai‘i, an organization that consists of a handful of Hawaiian churches, aims to preserve its independence, its own brand of Christianity and its deep cultural roots.

Episcopal minister Elizabeth Ziva­nov of The Parish of St. Clement maintains that recent arguments made by the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hono­lulu against same-sex marriage are "incredibly offensive" in that they group homosexuals with the Bible's sinners, who, unless they change their ways, face eternal damnation.

Catholic bishops and priests from major dioceses across the country will pre­sent a coordinated message today and Sunday that backs proposed changes in U.S. immigration policy.

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.

Going to church, temple or any house of faith on a regular basis may take care of the soul, but the Rev. Wally Fukunaga, founder of the Sunrise Ministry Foundation, said his organization is trying to "broaden the landscape even more" and give the spirit a playground in which to frolic.

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.

Gene Corpuz, a spokes­man for Dignity Hono­lulu (LGBT Catholics), added his group's voice to other national gay rights organizations in praising Pope Francis for his remarks about homosexuals early this week.

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.

As the daughter of immigrant farmworkers living in Texas near the Mexican border, Bishop Minerva Carcano of the United Methodist Church has seen people risk their lives and those of their children in desperation to find work in this country.

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.

Christian recording artist Tiffany Thurston will present a "Bloom" conference targeted at teenage girls and college-age women June 21 and 22 at New Hope Oahu Ministry Center.

The Honolulu Hawaii Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will pre­sent its annual summer pops concert, "Celebrate America," at 7 p.m. June 21 and 22 at the Hono­lulu Tabernacle.

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.

More than 40 interfaith congregations on Oahu and Maui and their allies have used their political muscle through Faith Action for Community Equity to take care of basic needs of Hawaii residents, especially the poor, sick and marginalized members of society.

Katherine Crosier, who recently retired after serving as organist for the Lutheran Church of Hono­lulu for 35 years, is playing as much of the kind of music she and her husband love before she goes blind.

First Unitarian Church of Hono­lulu will celebrate two milestones next week: its 60th anniversary as a certified member of the American Unitarian Association and the 100th anniversary of the completion of its Nuuanu church building.

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.

Church of the Crossroads is taking part in a 50-day nationwide campaign of caring for Earth in which its members will plant 200 trees, write letters and circulate petitions on environmental issues.

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.

St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church welcomes children and adults to sign up for participation in the Aloha Music Academy workshop. The event begins April 8 and culminates with a performance April 14 at 9 a.m. at the church in Kalihi.

Daphne Hookano, a former addict once convicted of selling drugs, and the Rev. Sam Cox, a soft-spoken Methodist minister, come from different backgrounds but share the same vision of transforming the lives of women once they leave prison.

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.

Kyle Kajihiro, winner of Church of the Crossroads' 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award, said his becoming a peace and justice activist was sparked by insults to his ethnicity while attending college in Oregon in the 1980s.

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.

For the Japanese, observing "sho­ga­tsu," or New Year's rituals, ensures an auspicious start to the next 365 days, but in Hawaii local people of all races and religions join in the custom of visiting a Shinto shrine for a blessing and to pick up a variety of elaborately fashioned good-luck charms.

Instead of dreading the darkest days of the year, Neolithic pagans came to realize that the winter months would usher in longer days of sunlight — so vital to their sustenance — and they started celebrating the coming light with traditions still treasured during Christmas today.

Sandra Armstrong never felt the envy some Jewish children experience when Christian friends get to open oodles of gifts, hang decorations on a fragrant tree and enjoy other glitzy festivities of Christmas.

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.

Pieper Toyama, head of school at Pacific Buddhist Academy, will receive The Interfaith Alliance Hawai'i's "Flame of Hope Award" at the organization's 10th annual Awards Celebration and Dinner on Nov. 18 at Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.

The pious, compassionate side of St. Marianne Cope is well known with all the publicity surrounding her newly declared sainthood, but a play to be staged next month reveals her feisty side.

Will you take into account the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye’s wishes when voting in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in August?
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