Aloha Members, Partners, and Friends of Faith Action,
For more than 27 years, Faith Action for Community Equity founded in 1996 has advanced a deeply spiritual commitment and missional purpose of improving the quality of life for the people of Hawai‘i. Since then, we have celebrated numerous triumphs and walked through burdensome challenges. This is no different for our island, community, and churches—they, too, have experienced triumphs and challenges.
In the past couple of years, in spite of a global pandemic, Faith Action has diligently continued to engage with the wider community, thanks in large part to its staff members.
Nonetheless, at the end of 2022, our Steering Committee, made up of representatives from our various member units, met to evaluate the state of our non-profit organization and assess the future sustainability of Faith Action. In October, at our first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic, joys and sorrows of the past and the present were discussed including the current trajectory of Faith Action. Many agreed that engagement among clergy, churches, and members continued to decline for various valid reasons. Initial potential solutions were proposed around the future of the organization, ranging from improved communication methodology, to reimagining a new model of ministry, to perhaps closing down the entire organization. By the second meeting held in November 2022, a smaller group gathered. They reviewed the financial health of the organization and highlighted the necessity for equitable compensation, and its lacking within the current staffing. Although the conversation centered around closure, some grappled with a potential re-imagination of the future. Others pointed out the treasured past, the good work of Faith Action; recognizing the well-respected name of Faith Action and its reputation, stature, and good character. Still, others favored a reimagining that included restructure, diversity in leadership, broadening our partners and members, and boldness in advocacy—all while abiding by the original mission: improving the quality of life for the people of Hawai‘i.
With the departure of three deeply committed and beloved staff members, who resigned at the end of 2022, and the completed terms of recent board members, Faith Action is poised to step into a new future, still with faith as our foundation.
The words of God to the Israelites in times of trouble were these, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Is the meaning of God for the Hebrew people inherently related to justice? Should God be identified as the one who delivered Israel from its oppressors? If so, the followers of this Hebrew God, who claim to follow Jesus of Galilee—the embodiment of the divine and the presence of God on earth, led by the power of the Sustainer—should not these followers be known as the gathered people of God [the Church], called to respond to cries of injustice in the world?
Whether Faith Action continues in its current configuration or if it is reimagined into something new is not the true question at hand. Rather, the question should be, who will be the gathered people of God called to respond to cries of injustice in Hawai’i?
Clearly, the lifelong call upon Faith Action has been to respond to the cries of injustice and advance equity around our island. That call is deeply spiritual; biblical wisdom and commitment is not up for discussion. Rather, it should be the driving force propelling us forward in 2023. To care for the widow, the single mother, the kupuna, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the unhoused, the unemployed, the migrant. To advocate for those who are being mistreated, abused, discriminated, exploited, or oppressed. To protect the ʻāina (land), the wai (water), the animal kingdom. To stand with Kānaka Maoli (our Native Hawaiian siblings) who first stewarded this land we inhabit. To see the divine in all of creation. For all creation carries the image of the divine and is inherently good—very, very good.
We are invited into such a season and flow, where all things are being made new, repaired, restored, redeemed; where all things are being put back together, healed, and reconciled. We hope you will be part of that. Please save the date for our next in-person meeting, “Treasuring the Past, Reimagining the Future,” on Saturday, February 18, at Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church (5339 Kalanianaʻole Highway, O‘ahu) and plan to join us, bring a friend, anyone who wants to join the journey. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information if you plan to attend.)
Within this week are two observances that serve as important reminders for us. On January 16, we celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” His inspiring words, actions, and lifelong commitment to civil rights remind us all to work for racial, economic, gender, and international justice. On January 17, we remember the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom which continues to be illegally occupied to this day. January 17 is Lā Ho‘oku‘ikahi (Reconciliation Day) in honor and remembrance of the justice, reconciliation, and nonviolence of Hawai‘i’s last reigning monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani, who said, “Never cease to act because you fear you may fail.” Let us meditate on and give life to the words of these beloved leaders.
Please keep Faith Action in your thoughts and prayers as we listen and discern how to continue engaging our faith to bring about a more just and equitable Hawai‘i.
Note: The work of the four Faith Action task forces is being deescalated. A Working Board will carry on fiduciary responsibilities to maintain the organization’s non-profit status should the organization decide to evolve rather than close completely. An open Working Group is being created to help envision the future of Faith Action. If you are interested in being part of this group, visioning with Faith Action, please reach out (email@example.com).
Rev. Moses Barrios, Incoming Faith Action Board President
Jon Davidann, Faith Action Treasurer
Danicole Ramos, Outgoing Faith Action Board President
Kristen Young, Faith Action Secretary