top of page
  • Hawai‘i Conference

PAAM UCC celebrates 50 years with convocation in Hawai‘i

PAAM (Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries) was established in 1974 as a ministry of the United Church of Christ to address the issues of Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans within our denomination and communities. This year, PAAM celebrates 50 years and has marked the occasion with their 2024 convocation which was hosted by Hawai‘i PAAM from June 18-22 at Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Attendees came from as far as New York, Florida, and Fiji.

The convocation's theme was “Ola I Ka Wai” (Water is Life), Hawaiian wisdom which highlights water's critical role in our lives not only as a sustaining resource but also the bridge that connects us all. "Water, in its ceaseless journey from the peaks to the vast oceans, is more than a mere element; it is a life force that binds us all, nurturing our lands, enriching our communities, and weaving a tapestry of life that stretches across the globe."

View learning resources (presentations, workshops) that inspired the dialogue and conversations at the Convocation.

"The Blue Pacific Continent" - James Baghwan (Photo by Kaleomokuokanalu Chock)

View more photos on Facebook

Main guest speakers for the convocation were the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ; and the Rev. James Bhagwan (of Fiji), Executive Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches (to which AHEC was accepted in 2023), which represents churches and councils in 18 countries and territories across the Pacific.

Presentations included "Militarization in the Pacific" by James Baghwan and Derek Duncan of Global Ministries.

Hawai‘i PAAM Secretary and AHEC member Josann Jenks shared:

"Hawai‘i PAAM and AHEC teamed up with Dr. Maile Arvin to host a workshop focusing on the AHEC Resolution regarding boarding schools. Dr. Arvin shared her research on the Waiale‘e Training School for Boys. Na Lei Poina Ole: Beloved Children Never Forgotten."

In this presentation: Dr. Maile Arvin, associate professor of History and Gender Studies at the University of Utah, shares a presentation, "Nā Lei Poina ‘Ole: Confronting Histories of Child Institutionalization in Hawai‘i," on her research on the Waiale‘e Training School for Boys. Ron Fujiyoshi, member of AHEC, shares about "A Resolution Calling for a New Study by Our Church On Our Relationship with the Indian Boarding Schools and the Boarding Schools in Hawaii" — the Resolution of Witness brought to the UCC General Synod in 2023 by AHEC which came as a result from the Department of Interior investigative report from May 2022 which outlined the civilization process that indoctrinated natives through boarding schools, 11 of which were were named in Hawai‘i.

View the full resolution on pages A19-A23 of AHEC's 2023 Annual Reports.

Other speakers were Kaleihau Kamauu, Vice-President of ‘Ohana Ho‘opakele who experienced the juvenile home system. He wrote his first paper on the boarding schools in Hawai‘i for his history class at the UH Hilo Hawaiian Studies program.

Youth and young adults hiked the Makapu‘u Lighthouse Trail

One young adult participant, Dustin Vuong Nguyen who is the Youth Coordinator at Irvine United Congregational Church of the Southern California Nevada Conference, shared in a Facebook post:

"My life has been turned upside down since coming to Hawaii for the United Church of Christ’s Pacific Islander and Asian American [Ministries] Convocation. I am infuriated by the devastation that colonialism has wrought on Pacific Island peoples and that it is never taught in schools or heard about in the media. Above all, I return home radicalized. I am radicalized seeing the sky-blue waters crashing against the cliffs, feeling God’s animating wind slapping against my face. Free Hawaii. Free Kanaky. Free Congo. Free Sudan. Free Palestine. The rivers of our fates are interconnected.

“Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

—Amos 5:24"

On Friday evening, all were invited to an ‘Aha Mele festival at Kawaiaha‘o Church which honored the legacy of Juliette Galuteria, a beloved emcee of previous events. The gathering was an opportunity to share in gifts of music and dance offered by individuals and groups. View it here:

On the last day of the convocation, prior to the closing worship, participants tossed "Genki Balls", made by Hawai‘i churches, into the Ala Wai Canal which has become heavily polluted over the years. The special, scientifically developed Genki Balls help to digest sludge and clean the water! This was part of a larger community project to restore the Ala Wai’s ecosystem. Learn more at

Delegates at the Convocation voted to support the Protect Oceania "Cancel RIMPAC" statement along with a wide coalition of supporting organizations. RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) is hosted by the U.S. military biennially, inviting foreign militaries to join in the largest maritime warfare exercise around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC has long been protested by community members for its negative impacts on the ocean, land, and people.

Rennie "expresses his deep appreciation for all those who spent hundreds of hours on the many various facets of the event and program. Mahalo to those who took off time for work, made it a staycation in Waikiki (although working their tails off)."

Congratulations to Myrna-Lyn Abang (Ewa Community Church) who was elected as Secretary for the National PAAM Executive Board!



Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page