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Wahiawa UCC Hosts Prayer Service on 75th Human Rights Day

Sunday, December 10th of this year was the 75th anniversary of Human Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which inspires work that ensures freedom, equality, and dignity for all people.

Wahiawa UCC, along with Hawai'i Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (HiCHRP), honored the occasion with a service of prayer. Members of the wider community were invited. Many showed up with Palestine in mind as the death toll of civilians has soared to over 18,000 in just two months and the human rights of even more are blatantly neglected.

Pastor Cassie Chee (she/they) of Wahiawa UCC shared that there are times for action and protest, and times when we must sit in our grief. The service offered space to mourn in community. Attendees were invited to place written prayers, candles, and flowers on the altar, and speak their prayers from the pews.

Photos by Kristen Young

Order of Service

Pule for Human Rights

75th Anniversary of International Human Rights Day

Wahiawa UCC + HiCHRP

December 10, 2023, 12:00 p.m.

Welcome (Cassie)

Scripture: Matthew 25:34-45 (NRSV)

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You who are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

Pule (Kami)

E pule kākou, let us pray: God of stillness, how did you know when to leave and when to draw near to others? To be alone can do terror and torture to the soul; it can rouse fear and shame in use that we would not ordinarily encounter. Would you grant us that discernment which awakens us to the thirst for solitude in our own soul, but not without your fierce protection of our minds and bodies as we name to be alone is to risk ourselves. Train our communities in the way of deep solidarity which stands together in suffering and celebration, but also which reminds one another that there are times when we must be alone with our own selfhood and story, growing in care and curiosity about ourselves as we would our neighbor. Let us be present in love to our own emotions, bodies, and thoughts for we are worthy of being seen by ourselves. Amen. (Source: Cole Arthur Riley, Black Liturgies)

HiCHRP and International Human Rights Day (Yoko, HiCHRP Member)

Yoko: Aloha kākou, thank you for having us here today to celebrate the 75th commemoration of International Human Rights day.  This is the day that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that enshrines the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  In 1948, it set out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.  Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

My name is Yoko and as a solidarity activist, I am a member of the Hawai’i Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.  Our organization was born today, 5 years ago, but we owe our history to the legacy of all human rights defenders, solidarity organizations, and liberation movements that have come before us.  

There are many “Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines” around the world, and we are all specifically modeled after the interpretation of human and collective rights by Karapatan in the Philippines - The Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights. That:

  • Human rights should be respected in all its dimensions – civil and political, economic, social AND cultural.

  • That the Basic rights to life, humane treatment, and due process should be preserved at all times. –this includes, even combatants, which under the geneva convention, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), protects wartime prisoners, civilians and military personnel; establish protections for the wounded and sick; and provide protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone.

  • That the people have the right to be free from all forms of oppression and exploitation. - including the rights to the land that they til, to unionize their workplaces, to leave abusive partners, and to resist unrelenting state oppression by any means necessary.

  • THat A repressive state which serves the interests of a few oppressors and exploiters are the worst violators of human rights.  –this means that in a conflict where it is obvious who has more firepower, which is the STATE, we must hold them accountable for rights violations, because they are SUPPOSED to be extensions of a democratic system.

  • That The struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and social emancipation provides the framework for human rights advocacy.

  • That Human rights advocacy must be biased for the interest of the oppressed classes, sectors, and groups.

  • And that Human rights advocacy is integral to the struggle of the peasants for land, the workers for national industrialization and decent living and working conditions, the women against exploitation and discrimination, the indigenous peoples for self-determination, the poor for basic social services, and the youth for access to education and other venues for growth and development.

As a solidarity organization, we also understand how intertwined all of our struggles are and how we cannot be free unless we are all free. We stand together with all oppressed and fighting people. From Palestine, Hawaii, to the Philippines.  And we humbly ask that if you are a peace-loving person, join us.

Thank you to Cassie and the United Church of Christ of Wahiawa for co-hosting this event for us. We hope this is just the beginning of the collaborations to come.

Sharing from Jewish Voice for Peace Hawai‘i

Scripture: Micah 6:8 (Nelson)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Pule (Nelson)

E pule kākou, let us pray: Shelter God, help us to trust the promise. There are times it feels like our present reality will always be. It becomes difficult to dream. Our imaginations for healing and health are far too small. Expand them, God, that we might grow the branches of hope into something we can cling onto without them buckling under the weight of our next tragedy. Let our dreaming be our rest, a share from the heat of the evils of this world– that our alienation and oppression would not resign us to the wilderness. Be who you say you are. If you are a stronghold, then keep the marginalized within the walls of your chest. If you are destroyer of the veil, come and let it fall from the eyes of those who do injustice and make death. And protect our dreaming, Lord, that as we wait for you, our hope would not be tarnished by our tears but renewed– sacred glints of light in the darkness. Amene. (Source: Cole Arthur Riley, Black Liturgies)

Collective Altar

[Cassie will prepare art for altar. Will invite people to come up and put flowers and write prayers to place around the altar.]

Closing Liturgy (readers)

Kami: E pule kākou, let us pray: O God of steadfast love, we confess that we do not live in harmony with our siblings in the human family. Instead of peace, we sow discord. Instead of unity, we are bent on division. Instead of welcoming each other as you welcome us, we turn our backs on the stranger, the immigrant, and the other in our midst. We do not live justly; instead we discriminate, denying the worth of your beloved children. We fail to see your image reflected in the faces of our neighbors, and silence the voice of your glory. Forgive us, O God of hope, when we do not bear good fruit. Forgive us, O God of mercy, when we do not follow your Way of love. Amen. (Source: Unison Prayer of Confession (based on Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12) (adapted from Justice Revival Human Rights Day Liturgy, Sunday, December 8, 2019, 2nd Sunday of Advent)

Misty: I invite you to join me in the following liturgy. The words to read together will be on the screen in bold.

Misty: Shower the earth with your justice, O God, that we might live justly.

Misty: May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

ALL: Let the mountains yield prosperity, that all your children might live abundantly.

Misty: May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

ALL: Nourish us that we may bear good fruit, defending the cause of the poor, and delivering the needy.

Misty: May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

ALL: For as long as the sun endures and until the moon is no more,

Misty: May righteousness flourish and peace abound.

ALL: Blessed be the God our provider, who alone does wondrous things. Amen.

Pule (Cassie)

O Lord God, our hearts are burdened with great sufferings, burdened with wars and massacres of peoples, our hearts are burdened with contemporary conflicts. We pray for the detainees, the imprisoned, the exiled, the homeless, the persecuted and the refugees, for the grieving, the bereaved, the widows and orphans, for all the martyrs who gave their lives for freedom and peace, for the innocents whose blood was shed, for the wounded and tortured, for the afflicted families. To the Lord we pray. Hear our prayers, oh Lord. Amene. (Adapted from prayer by Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac)

Benediction (Cassie)


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