Church Council

2023 Report of the Nominating Committee

The Officers of the Church Council and the members of the Board of Christian Education, Board of Deacons, Board of Mission & Outreach and the Board of Trustees as well as several committees were elected by the membership of the Church at the annual meeting held on Sunday, March 12, 2023. Other one-time or special committee members were also affirmed. Mahalo to all who have been elected to serve, including:


Bruce Burkitt, Moderator
Thom. Probst, Vice-Moderator
Linda Somera, Secretary
Alice McDermott, Treasurer

Parish Relations Committee

Georgia McMillen ('23)
Judi Pasco ('23)

Board of Christian Education

Laura Moore ('23)
Karen Rollins ('23)

Board of Deacons

Karen Nelson ('25)
Bob Brem, Chair ('24)
Alex Butler (ʻ24)
Cindy Mead (ʻ24)
Victoria Smith ('24)
John Whittemore ('24)
Sue Nygren ('23)
Jackie Strahn ('23)

Kate Acks, Kako'o*
Dian Gruber, Kako'o*
Robin Burke, Kako'o*
Tom Nelson, Kako'o*
Mei Shan Tanaka, Kako'o*
Eleanor Ferreira, Emeritus
Earlene Cummings, Emeritus

Board of
Mission & Outreach

Mission Committee

Kate Acks, Chair ('23)
Edie Kapiko ('23)
Cindy Mead ('23)

Hui Malama O Keawala'i

Edie Kapiko ('23)
Cindy Mead, Chair ('23)
Tom Nelson ('23)

Board of Trustees

Dennis Barger ('25)
Bennett Cale ('25)
Jim Gruber ('25)
Joe McDermott ('25)
Scott Rollins ('25)
Georgia McMillen ('23)
Tom Nelson, Chair ('23)

Choir Committee

Cindee Burkitt ('23)
Elizabeth Current ('23)
Jim Gruber ('23)
Edith Kapiko ('23)
Cameron Keys, ex officio ('23)
Laurie Tanner ('23)

Endowment Fund Committee

Dennis Barger ('23)
Bruce Burkitt ('23)
Angela Domingo ('23)
Alice McDermott ('23)
Georgia McMillen ('23)
Thom. Probst ('23)
Pā ilina ‘ohana/Poʻaialoha Committee

Earlene Cummings ('23)
Phil Brown ('23)
Tom Nelson ('23)


2023 Annual Meeting Report
[ Click on the image below ]

Hawaiʻi Marriage Equality Act

It was moved by Judy Fox, seconded by Bob Hobson and voted that the Church Council of Keawalaʻi Congregational Church approves the performance of same-gender marriages in affirmation of our Mission Statement. (Church Council, Keawalaʻi Congregational Church, November 7, 2013)

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013 Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing “same-sex marriage in Hawaiʻi.” The debate over Senate Bill 1 during the recent special session of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature reflected an ongoing debate that began over twenty years ago.

Prior to the public debate on marriage, the Board of Deacons of the church had already agreed by consensus to approve the blessing of same-gender couples in 1993. With regard to marriages and blessings, it was decided that “everyone should be treated the same and that all should go through the same process of meeting with Kahu. It was, then, decided that Kahu would make the decision regarding requests for same-gender blessings.” (Church Council, March 7, 2001)

When Senate Bill 232 was passed on February 23, 2011, it legalized opposite-gender and same-gender civil unions. In keeping with the previous decision by the Board of Deacons, Kahu was licensed by the State of Hawaiʻi in 2012 to perform marriages and civil unions.

In anticipation of the passage of the “Hawaiʻi Marriage Equality Act” on November 13, 2013, the Church Council of Keawalaʻi Congregational Church, United Church of Christ voted at its meeting on Thursday, November 7, 2013 to approve the performance of same-gender marriages by Kahu. The action by the Church Council takes into account the commitment of the United Church of Christ (USA) in support of marriage equality and the previous actions of the Board of Deacons and Church Council. It also takes into account the ‘Ōlelo Mikiona or Mission Statement of the church that “we welcome all, love all and accept all into our ‘ohana.

Kate Acks — Moderator/President
Robert Hobson — Vice-Moderator/Vice-President
Judy Kapohakimohewa — Secretary
Bruce Purvis — Treasurer
Bruce Burkitt — Board of Trustees
Robin Burke — Board of Deacons
Judy Fox — Board of Mission & Outreach


Safe Church Policy

Through the work of the Personnel Committee of the Board of Trustees and in consultation with the Church Council/Board of Directors, Keawala‘i Congregational Church has adopted a "Safe Church PolicyonSexual Exploitation, Ministerial Conduct, and Child/Youth Protection”.For explanation of terms used in this policy, see below for the “Safe Church Policy Definitions."

The Personnel Committee has made a commitment to share this information on an annual basis and so we includethe policy statement and policy definitions in this issue of "Ka Hā A Ke Akua,"our bi-monthly newsletter and journal.

A. Prohibition of Sexual Exploitation and Harassment

Keawala‘i Congregational Church is committed to creating and maintaining a worship and work community in whichmembers, friends, staff, and volunteers can worship and work together in an atmosphere free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or intimidation.Specifically, allpersons associated with Keawala‘i Congregational Church should be aware that the church is strongly opposed to sexual exploitation and harassment, and that such behavior isprohibited by church policy.

It is the intention and responsibility of the church to take whatever action may be needed to prevent and correct behavior which is contrary to this policy and, if necessary, to discipline those persons who violate this policy.

B.Ministerial Conduct

All persons engaged in the ministry of Keawala‘i Congregational Church, are responsible for knowing thepossible impact of their words and actions in ministering to the emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of persons who come to them for help or over whom they have any kind of authority.Sexual harassment or sexual exploitation of parishioner(s) or other individual(s) by anyone engaged in the ministry of Keawala‘i Congregational Church is unethical andunprofessional behavior and will not be tolerated within this congregation.

Because ministers, including elected or appointed leaders, employees, volunteers, and authorized ministers, often deal with individuals who are emotionally and psychologicallyfragile or otherwise personally vulnerable, it is imperative that those engaged in the ministry of this church maintain their own psychological, emotional, and spiritual health, and that they have adequate preparation and education for helping thoseindividuals they seek to serve in ministry.

It is the policy of Keawala‘i Congregational Church toencourage its leaders, authorized ministers, employees, and volunteers to nurture safety within ministerial relationships by being attentive to self-care, education, and the importance of referring those in need to supportive and helpful resources.

It is also expected that those engaged in providing ministry will complete and submit a disclosure document,and that authorized ministers and employees will consent to a background check.

C.Child/Youth Protection

Keawala‘i Congregational Church is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment in which young people can learn about and experience God’s love.In order to ensure this, we expect that all people applying to be volunteers who work with minors will have been members for at least six months or friends of Keawala‘i Congregational Church for one year.It is thepolicy of the church to provide adequate supervision for allchildren and youth activities.We also expect all employees or volunteers who work with minors to complete and submit adisclosure document and to consent to a background check.


Safe Church Policy Definitions

Minister: a person engaged by the church to carry out itsministry.Minister includes elected or appointed leaders of the church, employees, and volunteers, as well as authorizedministers.

Authorized minister: a person who holds ordained ministerial standing or has been commissioned or licensed by anassociation of the United Church of Christ.

Ministerial relationship: the relationship between one who carries out the ministry of the church and the one being served by that ministry.

Sexual exploitation: sexual activity or contact (not limited to sexual intercourse) in which a minister engaged in the work of the church takes advantage of the vulnerability of a participant by causing or allowing the participant to engage in sexualbehavior with the minister.

Sexual harassment: repeated or coercive sexual advances toward another person contrary to his or her wishes.It includes behavior directed at another person’s sexuality or sexual orientation with the intent of intimidating, humiliating, orembarrassing the other person, or subjecting the person to public discrimination.Unwelcome sexual advances , requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical contact of asexual nature constitute harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or  implicitly a term or condition or circumstance ofinstruction, employment, or participation in any church activity;
  • Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for evaluation in making personnel or church-related decisions affecting an individual; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance or participation in church activities or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or church environment.

Prohibited sexual harassment includes unsolicited and  unwelcome contact that has sexual overtones, particularly:

  • Written contact, such as sexually suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations;
  • Verbal contact, such as sexually suggestive or obscene comments, threats,slurs, epithets, jokes about gender-specific traits or sexual orientation,sexual propositions;
  • Physical contact, such as intentional touching, pinching, brushing against another’s body, impeding or blocking movement, assault, coercive sexual intercourse; and
  • Visual contact, such as leering or staring at another’s body, gesturing,displayingsexuallysuggestiveobjects or pictures, cartoons, posters, or magazines.

Sexual harassment also includes continuing to express sexual interest after being informed directly that the interest isunwelcome – and using sexual behavior to control, influence, or affect the career, salary, work, learning, or worshipenvironment of another.It is impermissible to suggest, threaten, or imply that failure toaccept a request for a date orsexual intimacy will affect a person’s participation in the life of the church.

For example, it is forbidden to imply or actually withholdsupport for an appointment, promotion, or change ofassignment, to suggest that a poor performance report will be given because a person has declined a personal proposition; or to hint that benefits, such as promotions, favorable performance evaluations, favorable assigned duties or shifts, recommendations or reclassifications, will be forthcoming in exchange for sexual favors.