1st Openly Gay Settled Minister at 1st UU of Honolulu
Jonipher, 34, has distinguished himself as an activist and also serves on the advisory council for the Asian Pacific Islander Roundtable for the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Pacific School of Religion. He is an active member of the UUA’s Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee.
(The following is an article from Honolulu Online Magazine)
First Unitarian Church of Honolulu Inducts First Openly Gay, Asian Minister
by Tiffany Hill
On Sunday, Nov. 20, the more than 50-year-old First Unitarian Church of Honolulu on the Pali, is poised to induct Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong, the Honolulu church’s first openly gay minister, as well as its first Asian minister. We talked with Kwong about his new role and what it means not only for the Unitarian church, but the larger religious community and the public in general.
HONOLULU: Your first calling was the film industry; in 1997 you received a bachelor’s in film studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. What made you shift your focus to ministry?
Kwong: I worked in the film industry for three years, but I became disenchanted and disillusioned. People wore their dysfunction as a badge of honor. So in 2001, I enrolled in an interfaith seminary—which included Mormons, pagans, Baptists, Hare Krishna and more—and saw the need for a safe place for people to be who they are. (Read all of the Honolulu Online Magazine interview of Jonipher Kwong.)
We join in wishing him great success in his new ministry!