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  • Hawai‘i Conference

The Giving Circle Church celebrates launch

In a time when many mainline churches are declining in membership, three friends started the Giving Circle Church, a church in formation with the O‘ahu Association UCC, which celebrated its launch on January 8.

Their website states, "During COVID-19, a dinner pod connected folks who realized the difficulty of finding a progressive Christian church here on Oahu that felt like home. We wanted a church that reflected our vision of economic justice, valued diversity, did the work of decolonizing our faith, and promoted home-grown leadership.


Our backgrounds represent the full spectrum of Christian faith, but we agreed it was more important that a church shared a unified practice of serving the local community, rather than a unified set of beliefs; after all Jesus’s commandment to love our neighbor directs the ways that we treat one another, not the doctrines that we confess."


The Giving Circle Church's launch party gathered an intergenerational group of about two dozen people that shared a delicious meal and creatively reflected (with paper on their heads) on the question, "What should a church provide for the community?"

The three church founders took turns sharing the significance of each part of the church's name through personal testimony. Evalani Pandaraoan shared about her participation with an organization called The Asian American Impact Fund, a giving circle in New York. Members would combine their financial resources to provide mini grants to the community. These acts of giving were transformational and spiritual.


Jessica Kawamura, recently ordained and currently serving as the pastor of Wahiawa United Methodist Church, was raised on the continent and has generations of family in Hawai‘i. Her parents were married at the church where the launch party was held. Jessica engages in the complexities of being Christian and non-Hawaiian in Hawai‘i.


Dave Yoshida grew up attending Kalihi Union Church and eventually obtained his Master’s in Divinity

He identifies as "religious, but not spiritual" meaning that he experiences God best within community and tradition.

In order to live into their name and live out their value of giving, the Giving Circle Church aims to eliminate what are typically a church's largest expenses: ministers and facilities. In the Giving Circle Church, there is no designated pastor, leadership is shared among members. Their meeting space is freely provided by Makiki Christian Church, a sister congregation.


The progressive Honolulu-based UCC congregation will meet on the first Sunday of each month for dinner and worship. To learn more, visit givingcirclechurch.org.


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