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In recent years, growing number of people have become Orthodox. There is a spiritual hunger that is leading people to become Orthodox. Many are looking for the ancient Christian faith. Although Orthodoxy is growing, there are significant obstacles to people becoming Orthodox.
One of them is the language barrier. In Hawaii many people grew up speaking English and are used to worshiping in English. So, when they attend Orthodox worship that use a mixture of English and non-English, they find it unsettling and uncomfortable. Some can adjust to mixed languages worship, but many find it hard.
Another challenge is the parish culture. Many local people find it difficult to relate to the customs and ethnic practices that have their roots in the old country and not in local Hawaii culture or mainstream America.
Then there is the challenge of Hawaii’s religious and cultural diversity. Over half of Hawaii’s adults identify as Christians, about one quarter can be labeled “Nones,” and about one in twelve identify as Buddhist. There are an estimated 600,000 residents who speak Pidgin, of which about 100,000 use Pidgin as their mother tongue and have difficulty understanding Haole English. Many locals can speak good English but consider Pidgin their heart language.
The key here is to recognize, respect, and value people’s cultures. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, we should seek to start up multiple Orthodox parishes on Oahu. There is a deep spiritual hunger in Hawaii. Many people would like to become Orthodox, but the language and cultural barriers stop them.
Our Vision: to start an Orthodox Mission that will have all-English services and will reach out to the local people of Hawaii.
The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese is interested in starting an Orthodox Mission on Oahu but is waiting for the right circumstances. What is needed is a committed group of people who share the vision of an Orthodox church with all-English services that they can bring their family and friends to.
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