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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 20, 2003

Kawaiaha'o pastor investigation confidential

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Religion & Ethics Writer

The confirmation of the Rev. Kaleo Patterson as senior pastor at Kawaiaha'o Church has hit a snag, a church official said.

Two months after Patterson was nominated in October as kahu at the landmark church, the church received an allegation of impropriety, said Frank Pestana, moderator of the 700-member church. The moderator is equivalent to the president or chairman of the congregation.

Dorothy Lester, pastoral placement coordinator at Hawai'i Conference United Church of Christ, declined to discuss particulars of the Patterson confirmation. In response to requests for information on the confirmation, she issued this statement:

"The Church and Ministry Committee of the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches has recently completed an investigation, following established ecclesiastical procedures, of an allegation of an impropriety of one of its pastors. The allegation raised issues questioning whether the pastor acted properly within the meaning of the code of conduct applicable to pastors in UCC. The pastor in question has denied the allegation. The allegation did not allege a violation of any criminal laws."

The committee on Feb. 5 began a "situational support consultation," Lester said, but has not completed its final investigation.

"For the protection of the parties involved and to preserve the integrity of the ecclesiastical process, the proceeding will be kept strictly confidential," she said.

Lester added that only Kawaiaha'o Church has authority to call a pastor into service.

Pestana said: "The church knows there's a problem, and AHEC is looking into it."

Patterson currently serves as associate pastor of Kaumakapili Church and assists at Ka Hana O Ke Akua Church in Wai'anae. He was also well-known as a Hawaiian sovereignty activist.

"He was going to be a hard sell (to Kawaiaha'o's congregation)," admitted Pestana. "Now this.

"I told Kaleo, as long as he wants to keep moving forward, we will. This can end one of two ways: The congregation votes or he resigns."

No vote was scheduled. Patterson did not return phone calls.