Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Wednesday, May 27, 2015



Editor’s Note: This is a Guest Blog from Professor Willis Moore from Honolulu, Hawaii. – Fred Vergara


The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i stands in a unique place when viewed through the recent WHITE HOUSE SUMMIT on ASIAN AMERICANS and PACIFIC ISLANDERS.  This noisy, sometimes raucus, summit was a day-long endeavor on the campus of GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY.  The sounds of Hawaiian chant (delivered by Kama'opono Crabbe dressed like the "village undertaker," Hawaiian music from Paula Fuga and Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole, and Taiko drumming underlined the ethnic nature of the gathering.  The format was panel conversations, featuring members of the Cabinet, chaired by media types whose presence demonstrated the "form over substance" nature of today's TV talking heads.  The Summit drew 2000 to Washington, mostly Gen "X", "Y", and Millenials; this meant an abundance of whooping and applause aplenty.
Though not specifically mentioning churches, the focus and information at this 12 May Summit pointed out  trends in the USA, of which Hawai'i should be well-aware.  The UNITED STATES CENSUS BUREAU says that in 2012, there were 18 million "AAPI" in the USA, about 6% of the total USA population.  By the year 2060 (when many of us are no longer present), the prediction is that there will be 47 million "AAPI", representing 12% of the USA population (exceeding the percentage of African Americans by that year.  Birth rates among Caucasion and black USA populations are essentially flat: 2.1 per couple average.)
In Hawai'i, population growth currently is entirely related to ASIAN and PACIFIC ISLANDER numbers, as the Caucasion population slowly declines and African American, Hispanic, and Native American (Indian) populations are static.  At Statehood, Hawai'i was 35% Caucasion, 10% Native Hawaiian, and 55% Asian-descended folks.  Beginning with the year 2000 US Census, however, people could choose more than one racial/ethnic group, so totals now amount to more than 100%.

The historical narrative for Hawai'i differs from other States, and focuses much more on Asia and more recently, on Pacific Islanders.  If Captain Cook's estimate is the baseline, 300K people were present in 1878 (some scholars argue for a larger population of as many as 500K.)  Following the discovery of natural harbors on O'ahu, Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, in 1794, there were ship's masters' reports of Chinese men in Honolulu by 1800.   The major landmarks for Asians coming to Hawai'i were 1850 for the Chinese, 1868 for the "Gannen Mono" Japanese, though larger immigration from Japan, with picture brides, would come later.  Filipino immigration came after the USA take over of the Philippines in 1898, and Koreans date from the Japanese take-over of Korea in 1910.  The USA annexation of Hawai'i placed the Islands under the USA Chinese exclusion act of 1882; this meant essentially no more Chinese immigration until after World War II.  The Japanese were also restricted in the years before World War II;  but Filipino immigration grew significantly before and following World War II.  Even Philippine independence in 1946 did not end emigration.

In much of the USA, Chinese (and later Japanese) were discriminated against historically; the most flagrant example being the 120K ethnic Japanese, mostly USA citizens, who were interned at gunpoint during World War II.  Discrimination continues into the 21st Century in both blatant and subtle ways.  Asian - owned stores in Watts, and more recently in Baltimore, were destroyed in riots, a Chinese store owner and employee were killed in Mississippi; more instances were shared at the SUMMIT.

In the Anglican/Episcopal history in Hawai'i, the Cathedral congregation was not welcoming of Asians, only of Caucasians and some Po'e Hawai'i (Most Hawaiians attended Kawaiahao and Kaumakapili Churches in central Honolulu).  Bishop Willis began St Peter's Church next door to the Cathedral specially for Chinese.  St Elizabeth's, St Luke's, Good Samaritan, St John's Kula congregations all had Asian-focused beginnings.  At the time of Bishop Willis' departure in 1902, and the Missionary District of Honolulu was formed by TEC, the number of Hawai'i Chinese Episcopalians equalled all others combined!

The designation, 'ASIAN AMERICAN and PACIFIC ISLANDER" is a bureaucratic "convenience" for the USA Government:  Hispanic, Black and American Indian are the other three minority labels.  While there were originally Caucasian majorities in 49 of the 50 states, California has moved to "Caucasian plurality" status, no single group being a majority; Texas is estimated to be the second such state in the near future.  The Hispanic population has grown in both states more rapidly than other groups.

With experience gained by Bishop Kennedy during World War II, he began work with Filipinos (principally from Ilocano-speaking regions of the northern Philippines) who were "Aglipayans," members of the IGLESIA FILIPINA INDEPENDIENTE and living in Hawai'i.  Ilocano-speaking congregations eventually formed on all four main islands. Today, St Paul's in Honolulu is noted as the largest Filipino Congregation outside of the Philippines, a mission church of The Episcopal Church ministering to a large number of Aglipayans. 

Following World War II, Pacific Islander populations in Hawai'i and in the USA began to grow.  Initially there was friction in Hawai'i between "the locals" and newer arrivals from Samoa and from Tonga.  As Compacts of Free Association were negotiated between the USA and three new independent nations in what had been the TRUST TERRITORY OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS in the 1990's, large numbers of Micronesians began to relocate in the USA.  Estimates of 30K-50K are used by the Census Bureau in 2015....half residing in Hawai'i and half elsewhere in the USA.

Numerically the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i (TECH) shows a majority of Caucasian members; but numbers of Asian-descended and Pacific Islander (including Hawaiians) are nearing the 50% mark.  Bishop Fitzpatrick's energy has been focused in the area of Filipino relationships (He spent a sabbatical in the Philippines) and in the area of increased emphasis on Native Hawai'i and Asian-ancestry formation for ordination; and at least two significant confirmation / receptions into St Elizabeth's and into St Philip's (St John the Baptist) churches have occurred recently.

Delegates to the White House Summit held May 12, 2015

The WHITE HOUSE SUMMIT, viewed by thousands as a web-stream while attended by 2000, was unfortunately "long" on fluff and "short" on substance.  It did bring together, however cabinet secretaries of Health and Human Services (Sylvia Burwell), Housing and Urban Development (Julian Castro), E.P.A. Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang, Interior (Sally Jewell), Labor (Tom Perez), Education, (Arne Duncan), Homeland Security (Jeh Johnson), S.B.A. Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet,  as participants and attempted to focus on some of the challenges facing today's Asian and Pacific Island populations.  It was noted that although immigration from Japan is insignificant, those arriving from China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia are significant.  A high profile proof of the latter is the new Surgeon General of the United States, Vice-Admiral Dr Vivek Murthy, whose parents came from India.  He will play the central role at the Cabinet-level in the Administration to focus on "AAPI issues and initiatives."  At the start of the Obama administrations, there were 8 judges of "AAPI" ancestry; today there are 26 such judges in the USA.  It was pointed out that in a close election contest in Virginia in 2014, it was the "AAPI Vote" which tipped the scales in favor of Senator Warner. While Hawai'i Senators Fong and Inouye were trail blazers in the US Senate, today there are 14 Members in Congress of AAPI ancestry...three of whom hail from Hawai'i.   

Sally Jewel, Secretary of the Interior, said that the National Park Service was the "Nation's storyteller."  She pointed out her attempts to work with the Hawaiian community to form some kind of "government to government" relationship, as exists between Indian tribes and the USA government; and she cited the HONO'ULI'ULI INTERNMENT CAMP, a "forgotten chapter of Hawai'i and USA history," as examples of seeking to broaden the scope of the stories we tell about ourselves.  There are now National Parks in American Samoa, on Guam, as well as five in Hawai'i.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Youth and Students
Education Secretary, Arnie Duncan, spoke of educational needs and challenges of the AAPI community.  Those attending from Hawai'i did not speak, but could note that our public schools have been majority AAPI since World War II, and the University of Hawai'i system, Chaminade, HPU, and BYUH all host significant numbers of Asian and Pacific Islander students.  Similarly, the University of Guam has a large percent of its student body from the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Bullying is a significant problem in the 48 adjacent states, not so much in Hawai'i, and "wage-theft" looms large.  The recent expose of Cambodian exploitation in "the nail salon" revelations in San Francisco, and instances of trafficking in Hawai'i agricultural workers, are but two of many examples of denigration to be referenced.

Opportunities to minister, and to grow, are there for the Episcopal Church.  The Diocese of Hawai'i, potentially could include significant numbers of East Asian ancestry folks, growing numbers of Southeast Asian immigrants, and specially, the influx of significant numbers of Pacific Islanders; it is uniquely situated to create and to model ministry to and with ASIAN AMERICANS and PACIFIC ISLANDERS to the larger Episcopal Church, as it confronts declines in membership, attendance, and fiscal numbers.

Prof Willis H A Moore, is Adjunct Faculty at Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii
Member Hawai'i Coalition for Immigration Reform, and the Hawai'i Geographic Society. May 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015



Editor’s Note: Hibakusha, literally meaning “explosion-affected people” are survivors of nuclear bombing in Japan during World War II (1939-1945). It was in August 6, 1945 when the first atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and three days later in Nagasaki. The explosions literally leveled the two cities. Hundreds of thousands instantly vanished and burned to death and thousands more would later die from radiation. The following is a testimony of Professor Sueichi Kido, a Hibakusha from Gifu City, Japan given at St. James Episcopal Church, Elmhurst, New York on May 3, 2015. The informative event was hosted by the Metropolitan Japanese Ministry (MJM) in New York, a member of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries Network. – Fred Vergara

Photos: Public file photos of the bombing victims and devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and photos of Professor Kido with Asian members of  St. James Episcopal Church, Elmhurst, New York. 5/3/2015 )

My name is Sueichi Kido. I was only five years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Seventy years have passed. Looking back on those years, I realize that I have three significant moments as a Hibakusha (a-bomb survivor).

The first moment was on the 9th of August 1945 when I was exposed to the A-bomb, and the second moment came in 1952 when I realized I was a Hibakusha. The third moment came in 1991, when I became involved in the Hibakusha movement and started learning a way of life as a Hibakusha.

When the A-bomb was dropped, I was with my mother and neighbors on the street in front of my house, two kilometers away from the blast center. I heard the roaring sound of a bomber. One of our neighbors said, “Only American planes can sound that loud.” As I look up in the direction of the sound of the airplane, I saw a brilliant flash, and I was blown more than twenty meters away by the strong blast. I immediately lost consciousness. My mother carried me in her arms, fleeing to an air-raid shelter on Mount Inasa. My mother’s face and chest were burned, but I do not remember what she looked like then at all, which is very strange. 

Half of my face was also burned. There were so many injured in and around the shelter and I could hear them groaning. My brother’s friend was brought in but he passed away shortly from burns over his entire body.

On the following day, we took a road that passed by ground zero to Michinoon. To carry us they laid my mother on a plank of wood from a door and put me in a basket. The houses were all burned down and the streets and rivers were full of bodies. Many were dead. There were some who were alive. They were begging for water but there was nothing we could do.

The next day, I had a high fever of about 40 degrees Celsius and started experiencing symptoms of radiation sickness like bleeding gums. I was not aware of what was happening at all. I was weak, feeling scared at all times. I learned later that there was a gag order to keep the atomic bombings secret.

When the US occupation of Japan ended in 1952, the gag order on the A-bomb was lifted and the pictures of the damage caused were released. I was terribly shocked to realize I was a Hibakusha. I started feeling anxiety, thinking that I was going to die from leukemia and that I should not have children. I was even told to hide the truth that I was exposed to the A-bomb from anyone outside of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. I did not mean to hide it but I could not share my story with other people, not even with my close friends from Junior High and High School.

I was still in school when I first spoke of my experience and it took a lot of courage to do so. I got married in 1973. My wife decided to marry me knowing that I was a Hibakusha. I was so relieved when she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

In 1991, the Gifu A-bomb Victims association was founded as a result of our coordinated efforts. With this beginning, I became a member of Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A-and-H Bomb Sufferers Organization) and started to get involved in the Hibakusha Movement. Since then, I have been learning what it means to live as a Hibakusha and as a person.

Hidankyo was founded with the aim “to save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experience, while at the same time saving ourselves.” Since its foundation, we have been calling for “No More Hibakusha,” despite our poor health. 

We have been calling for the prevention of nuclear war and the elimination of nuclear weapons and demanding state compensation. This goal had not been accomplished yet but we are committed to building a strong campaign to prevent us from making the same mistake again. That is our mission as Hibakusha rooted in history. 

Many Hibakusha have devoted untiring efforts to fulfill their mission by talking about their experiences and wishes at home and abroad despite their old age and ill health.
Hibakusha don’t have much time left. As one of them, I am determined to dedicate the rest of my life to sharing my experience; the life and death of Hibakusha and the goals of our movement to keep reminding people around the world. 

What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki teaches us that if we use nuclear power as a weapon again, it will destroy the whole of humankind. I sincerely wish that people around the world would recognize what a nuclear bomb really brought us and they will listen and take action to save the world. 

No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more war! No more Hibakusha!