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PAAM set to celebrate 50 years with gathering in Hawaii

The Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries of the United Church of Christ (PAAM) will celebrate 50 years of lifting the rich traditions and histories of its siblings — as well as addressing challenges —  with a weeklong gathering at the historic Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu, June 18-22.

The theme, “Ola i Ka Wai” — which means “Water is Life” — was chosen to highlight the “profound connection” PAAM members have with their heritage and the earth.

Attendees marking this milestone are invited to bring vials of fresh water from their homes, which will then be poured into one vessel during the opening ceremony on June 18.

According to a press release issued by the Hawaii PAAM, “this symbolic act strives to foster a sense of shared identity and community among the attendees.” It also helps to examine the role water plays in “nourishing cultures and life, emphasizing the importance of sustainability.”

“Celebrating the vitality that water brings to our communities is at the heart of this gathering,” said the Rev. Mitchell Young, moderator of national PAAM. “Our Pacific Asian ancestors come from many lands covering over 40% of the earth’s surface, with a majority of that surface being water.”

Young noted, too, that as Christians, Jesus’ promise of living water “is as essential to our spirits as fresh, clean water is to our bodies.”

“The United Church of Christ aims to embrace and understand the essential elements that forge strong, resilient communities through this unique and vibrant gathering,” he added.

A week of learning and celebrating

“Ola i Ka Wai” will be rich with cultural offerings, providing a full lineup of musicians and singers.

The keynote speaker will be the Rev. James Bhagwan, the General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Suva, Fiji. Speakers from the UCC national office include General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson; Derek Duncan, area executive for East Asia and the Pacific for Global Ministries of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and, Tracy Howe, team leader and minister for Faith Education, Innovation and Formation at Justice and Witness Ministries.

Workshops will address pressing issues such as climate justice, boarding schools of Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, and militarism in the Pacific. There will also be a youth track offering liturgical and media arts as well film showings with Asian American and Native Pacific filmmakers.

For more on the celebration, click here for the PAAM 50th anniversary brochure.


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Anna Harden

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