by Hans Holznagel | published on Jul 18, 2021
Here is the link to the amended resolution “Encouraging to End 128 years of of War between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom” that was passed.
The governing body of the United Church of Christ doesn’t usually change its mind about a vote it has taken. On July 18, it did.
General Synod delegates voted to reconsider a resolution about Hawaii that they had narrowly defeated the day before. This time the resolution got 72.9 percent approval — comfortably more than the two-thirds required to pass. The vote was 328-122, with 34 abstentions.
The resolution calls on church leaders to ask that the U.S. recognize its own presence in Hawaii as an “illegal occupation” according to international law. On July 17, a majority — but not the needed super-majority — had voted for it.
The resolution had come to Synod from the UCC’s Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches, made up of 31 historically Native Hawaiian congregations from across Hawaii. Some 80 percent of them were founded before 1893, the year the United States took Hawaii by military overthrow.
What it calls for
Now that it has passed, the resolution charges the UCC’s general counsel with communicating the church’s position to government agencies. First, the counsel is to “listen to and consider recommendations” from AHEC, “other Native Hawaiian organizations, and Native Hawaiian voices.” Then it is to draft “communications to local, national and international leaders and organizations calling for compliance with international humanitarian law and an end to the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian islands.”
AHEC spelled out the case for that position in submitting its resolution months ago.
As amended by delegates in a two-day process at Synod, the resolution also:
- Calls on “all settings of the church … to live into the 1993 apology of the United Church of Christ delivered to the Native Hawaiian people”
- Reaffirms the Synod’s commitment “to stand alongside and in support of the efforts of Native Hawaiians to seek redress and restitution for the war crimes of the U.S. against the Hawaiian Kingdom including, but not limited to, the crime of denationalization”
- Asks for “a written and oral update on the progress on the implementation of this resolution” at the 2023 Synod.
The Synod’s rethink followed numerous points of order and points of personal privilege raised by delegates. Several said they felt the July 17 floor debate had been unfairly cut short — though Moderator Penny Lowes pointed out that the delegates themselves had defeated a motion to extend debate in that Saturday session. What succeeded on Jan. 18 — after much parliamentary analysis — was a formal motion to reconsider.
Gloria-Ann Muraki, an AHEC member and a Synod delegate from the UCC Board who spoke to the resolution in committee and on the floor, saw a higher power at work in the process.
She said the AHEC committee that originally wrote the resolution had been meeting since its July 17 defeat. “We have been reminding ourselves that we have to keep our faith in Ke Akua (God),” she said. “And that is what happened on the floor of the General Synod. We thank everyone, and it’s given us renewed faith in the UCC and its process.”