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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

Where We Worship
Harris United Methodist proud of serving community

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol

Deaf ministries coordinator Francine Kenyon signs to the congregation at Harris United Methodist Church during its 11th annual Deaf Ministry Awareness Sunday Service. The church also has a Japanese-language ministry called O'ahu Nichigo Ministry.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

• Name of church: Harris United Methodist Church

• Our affiliation: United Methodist Church, California-Pacific Annual Conference, based in California

• Where we are: 20 S. Vineyard Blvd., in downtown Honolulu

• Our numbers: 360 members

• Our pastor: the Rev. Gary W. Barbaree, senior pastor; the Rev. Yuji Sato, associate pastor

• What we believe: "We are a Christian congregation, so Jesus of Nazareth is Christ and Messiah, the founder of our faith, a sample of holiness, and His Gospel is that God is love," Barbaree said. "In the Methodist tradition, there's a match between personal holiness and social holiness. So personal devotion to Christ and service to others go hand in hand."

• Our history: Harris United Methodist Church, also known simply as Harris Church, was founded in 1888 by the Rev. Kanichi Miyama with the mission to serve the members of the Japanese-speaking community. The original church was on River Street and later moved to several different sites during the redevelopment of the downtown Honolulu area. The present facilities were completed and dedicated in 1962.

The original church was called the First Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church, which later became Harris Memorial Methodist Church, and in 1968, it was given its present name.

The church is named in honor of Merriam Colbert Harris, the first Methodist bishop for Japan and Korea, said Katherine Aratani, a member of the church and co-chair of the staff parish relations committee. Harris also worked among Japanese immigrant communities in the United States.

• What we're excited about: Members are looking forward to Harris Jubilee 2001, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 at the church. The event is the church's one major fund-raiser of the year that will feature live entertainment, food, games, children's activities, crafts, a country store, a silent auction and more.

"What we were looking for is a single event for our congregation that would be a God-centered celebration of the ministry of God within our congregation and within our neighborhood," Barbaree said. "It also is to raise funds for support of our global ministries."

The Jubilee, Barbaree said, represents a new step for Harris Church.

"We are placing emphasis on celebration, so that service is enjoyable and not only work," he said. "We take pleasure in our capacities to serve the way Christ would serve."

• What's special about us: The church's downtown location is something that the congregation feels "is really an important gift that we have," Barbaree said.

"It's very centrally located and it's close to the business, financial and political hub of Honolulu, and also it's in between several clusters of residential areas that are really diverse," he said. "So, within a two mile radius, there's a tremendous variety of needs and resources."

In addition, Barbaree said, "I think that the strong traditions of service, the strong sense of being a community-based congregation and a deep commitment to service, those are the things that make it special to me."

Aratani added that the church has always been a mission-minded church. For example, it has started a mission that later became Wesley United Methodist Church in Kahala; provided money to help Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Liliha, Trinity United Methodist Church in Pearl City and the Pacific Islanders United Methodist Church in Palolo; and contributed money to the new Kapolei United Methodist Mission.

Harris United Methodist Church has a Japanese-language ministry, known as the O'ahu Nichigo Ministry, as well as a deaf ministry.

The church also has prepared meals every Monday night for the past 22 years for the Institute of Human Services, and, since 1991, the church has held an annual summer "Christmas" dinner at IHS, usually on the fifth Saturday of July or August.

• Contact: Call 536-9602 or e-mail barbaree@bizwind.com

If you would like torecommend a church, temple or faith organization for a Where We Worship profile, e-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com, call 535-8174 or write: Where We Worship, Faith Page, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.