About Hale Ho'onani
Pastor David Reid Brown
I received a vision from God while driving on highway H3 in Oahu in 2014. God revealed a word to me and said, “Stop what you’re doing. I have something else for you to do.” God gave me the name of the church, told me to name it in the Hawai’ian language, and to plant it, as I did in October 2016.
This experience was fraught with personal trials and triumphs: the worst, being the victims of a home burglary; the best, a loving family’s support and earning a graduate degree. I have learned some hard but good lessons on what it actually takes to break new ground in these blessed Hawaiian Islands.
Over the course of my ministry, my vocation morphed three times. First, I became a new pastor during my three years of seminary. It was there I met a classmate who was in the Navy’s Chaplain Candidate Program. Second, he convinced me to become a Navy Chaplain and I was able to serve in a global ministry for 21 years. Third, I was hired as a teacher at a Christian school in Honolulu one month after I retired. For nearly four years, I have had the privilege of teaching, mentoring, praying with, and advising 250 young people in grades K-12. I believe that I’m becoming an effective Christian Educator and that the classroom is my new parish.
In all three movements in ministry, I never saw God moving in advance. That is, I never knew that he had something else, something more than that with which I was involved. So, I turn over Hale Ho’onani at a fertile point: poised for innovation, expansion, and growth, bolstered by the attention and support of African Methodism, prepared to demonstrate the affinity and efficacy that our witness can have within a multicultural environment.
We are told in the scriptures that King David desired to build a house of worship for the Lord. God seemed flattered at the proposal but told David that he would not be the one to build it, but that his son, Solomon, would do it. So David, the Shepherd-Warrior-Poet, passed on the dream to Solomon, the Wise-and-Able Builder, who accomplished the task in glorious fashion. It’s with this same intention that I turn over God’s vision to the capable heart, mind and hands of the Reverend Vicky Lee. I wish her “Aloha,” “Malama Pono,” and Godspeed on her journey.
Pastor Vicky Lee
When I was 13, an angel landed on my windowsill. He blinded me in a soft white light and I fell face down on the carpet of my bedroom where I was praying with my stuffed koala bear. I saw flashes of my future in my mind—decades of strife—which came true. And then I heard, “You are a messenger.”
By the time I was 20, I graduated with honors from U.C. Berkeley with a major in rhetoric and minor in Asian American Studies. Filled with rage, I worked as a social activist—but that pain I carried eventually led me to Hawai’i.
A family of native Hawai’ians adopted me. It’s an old school practice to “hanai” someone who is not blood-related to you—and rare on the north shore of Kaua’i—to be accepted as family. For eight years, I pulled taro with them. My back was v-shaped. My hair turned ehu or reddish. My intuitive abilities sharpened and I sensed things such as danger or love from a distance.
I’m a Dean’s Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. In 2018, I became the first Asian American in history to be ordained in the A.M.E. and historically Black church where I am an elder, deacon and minister. In that same year, I was certified in Reflexive Structured Dialogue by Essential Partners which is a system designed by family therapists to help people have productive conversations about difficult and painful topics.
In 2020 I was assigned as Pastor of Hale Ho’onani, translated as House of Praise, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Pastor Brown received the vision and planted the seed of our church, and now it’s my mission to nourish it and, with you, make it grow.
You see, the House of Praise is your soul. It’s your body, your family, your friends, your coworkers, your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country and your world. It’s everyone and it’s everywhere, just as God is. So we celebrate this House of Praise, the dream of your soul.