I remember Pastor Kekapa is quiet person but he was a doer.
One day we are in the Bible study class, suddenly the rainstorm was pouring, and I saw Pastor Kekapa checking around the church facility under the rain. Through this action I can see and feel the tender, loving and care of his heart for the church.
I joined the ukulele class, I was so impressed, and learn so much; and very enjoy the class leading by his crew, with his stunning voice.
Especially when we visited the care home, that was a wonderful time, we praise the Lord! We sang worship songs. I thank God to give me the opportunity to participate. The patients were happy and the workers were fill with joy. At the end with Pastor Kekapa’s Hawaiian blessing, everyone was blessed. Our hearts fill with full of joy!
Pastor Kekapa, We will remember you!
He was a very special man, chosen by the Lord to do His ministry.
I had asked him if he could bless my Moloka’i friend and her hanai daughter. He did not know them.
I asked again, if he had time to bless my mom. I told him that she was raised as a Buddhist but also respected Christianity.
He breathed and lived by the Church. God always lifted him up, just as Kekapa always lifted people up in the
Good memories of a man who dedicated his life to the Lord, living the Word he taught to others and just loving
This gentle, quiet and humble man is now at peace, called back by the Lord on a new Mission. He is missed,
May you rest in peace, Kekapa, for a lifetime of work well done.
Willa Mae Loo
FCCC Ukulele Ohana
The FCCC Ukulele Ohana started late 2009, when Kekapa began working at FCCC. One mid-
Snack time”, a discussion about having a Ukulele class occurred. At the end of the discussion
Remembering someone special…
Kahu Kekapa was warm, kind, talented and genuine!
I remember calling on him to help with my father who was ready to return home to the Lord and without skipping a beat said I’ll be there as soon as I take these young people home to their parents. He was talking about the EGF group. He would load them up in his sedan and take them back to their parents sometimes making two trips. One may think well that’s what pastors do, but he was new to the church and had never met my dad or my family, that was the kind of man he was, so thoughtful, caring, generous and loving.
Kahu was so humble that he refused to be called Pastor or Reverend but just Kekapa. He would often say that titles meant that he was better than others, and he would emphasize that he was just the same as we were. Being a Kahu (Shepard) was his calling and not his status. No special treatment for this Kahu, just one of the group!
I was present when a young man walked in off the street needing financial help and after listening to him, said wait here I’ll be back. Kekapa left saying I will be back, and proceeded to his bank to get the funds that was asked of him. Later that day I said, “he might be telling you a story, you’ll never get your money back”, and he said with a smile, “that’s okay it’s all good”. That was a lesson for me to learn, how to be compassionate. That didn’t mean that Kekapa was a softy or a pushover, but an extremely compassionate, kind and generous man.
His warmth and kindness, his Hawaiian culture showed his Christian teaching of Loving God, Loving others and sharing the good news is practiced not preached, and that encouraged me to return to worship and serve Lord at The First Chinese Church of Christ after an absence of 25+ years.
A hui hou, Kekapa,
It was my privilege to know and work with Pastor Kekapa Lee for more than 25 years.
Highly respected among UCC pastors, he was always quietly humble, gifted in music, careful in speech, a compassionate listener, and genuinely Hawaiian.
When I served as pastor of the UCC churches on Molokai, we invited him to come from Maui to lead a workshop in music. His ukulele of course accompanied him, and following his resonant voice, our church leaders greatly benefited from his emphasis on the Hawaiian kanikapila musical style.
When he was installed as pastor of FCCC, he asked if I could decorate the sanctuary with tropical flowers. It was a privilege to honor him in that deserving way.
Whenever the Merry Monarch opened in Hilo, you could always expect this “Hilo Boy”, as he called himself, to be present.
He was a trusted source of knowledge for things Hawaiian, yes, but more than that, one who embodied Christian aloha. We will all miss him, yes, but his generous spirit will live on.
Mahalo nui, Kekapa!
Pastor Paul Brennan
We were sad to hear of Kekapa’s passing. The memory of his singing and prayer in Hawaiian language is still vivid in our brains.
We meet with the Chinese group of FCCC, but did have a few interactions with him.
Kekapa struck us as a sincere, faithful and humble servant of the Lord.
We miss him and wish that we could have spent more time with him.
K-L and Ann Chen
Kekapa was a kind soul whose ministry was unique. His ministry involved not only the elderly but the preschoolers and the youth as well.
Having established his office not long after being called to serve the English congregation, he was willing to work with the preschool children in their chapel time, playing his beloved ukulele, teaching the youngsters simple Christian songs, always ending the song with a loud AMEN,
As the time went by in addition to his pastoral duties, he was willing to serve as an advisor for the newly formed youth group from Fujian, China. These youths called themselves EGF , Evangelical Gospel Fellowship and met each Friday evening.
Kekapa took an interest in the youth and began giving devotions, driving the boys home, cleaning up the gym. He even went camping with the youths. He did this for 4 or 5 years.
He would even visit the parents of a youth who was hospitalized, not knowing the Chinese language but came to minister in prayer to the family.
Visiting the members or family members, friends in the hospital or care homes was Kekapa’s first priority.
He also directed the choir a few times when help was needed.
Kekapa was a pastor who accepted his responsibilities, did his best to help bring the congregation together, never complaining he was overworked or tired. One of his goals was to lead the members, train them and let them carry on.
In humbleness with a generous heart, Kekapa fulfilled his responsibilities to the best of his knowledge, always giving God the glory.
Kekapa P. K. Lee was born in Hilo, Hawaii. In his teens he came to Honolulu to attend Kamehameha School. Then went to Vietnam, and California to attend Seminary.
Then he served as pastor at his church in Lahaina where he still held memorable ties. He finally came back to Oahu, loved his short time in Haleiwa; then finally in Honolulu serving faithfully the UCC and the First Chinese Church of Christ.
Far and Wide, Kekapa shared his music and caring love for all…and yes, even a bit of rascal fun!!! And we are all left with this vision of
Our Lord, with both His hands extended saying….
“Kekapa, you have served me well!! Come and let me give you rest”
One day a preacher came to our church just to stay for a short while. But after seeking others, the church thought that he should stay.
From far off Hilo, the preacher had made his way, through the island of Maui, the Kahu taught and preached The Way. The Maui people adored and loved him, as he spoke like them, and lived like them. They were sad to say that he would leave and preach to the Chinese, so far away. The preacher had won a Hoku for religious music along the way.
For 10 years, the preacher taught, prayed, and loved the “kanaka Pake” congregation the Hawaiian way. He taught to “pule”, “mele”, and “ho’okani ‘ukulele, play the ukulele. He refused to be called “kahu”, but only a humble Kekapa.
People came from close and far, from different churches, to hear him pronounce and sing the Hawaiian songs. His soft voice would boom, and resonant, when he sang, or when he would correct the poorly pronounced Hawaiian words.
But he would also chant, at funerals, at special occasions, and all who were there would hear his prayer. All would stand quietly to hear what he had to say, even though they did not understand a word he chanted. But we knew what he said was good.
Now the sounds of his voice and his chants are silent. They do not echo through the pews, the hall where we sat and played, the choir loft, or through the trees or bushes, but rather in our hearts and minds.
He was a silent man, a godly man, a chanter.
Arthur Wong, in memory of Rev. Kekapa Lee, 11-20-20.
Such sad news. I thank God for Kekapa, his ministry and ask for prayers for all who loved him.
—Rev. Diane Weible, Conference Minister, Northern California – Nevada Conference UCC
I give thanks to God for the life and ministry of Kekapa Lee. When he sang, I felt as if the angels in heaven were among us. His spirit was an open and free one in which all around him felt the power of his love and kindness. I am sad to learn of his pass- ing, though I know that he has found the eternal love of his beloved Jesus.
–Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
This just takes my breath away and breaks my heart. Kekapa served in so many ways in the national setting during the many years I was there. I remember worshiping with him on a Sunday where the Samoan commu- nity gathered to joyfully bring their offering and commitments for the upcoming year. Kekapa helped organize a Samoan Choir from Southern California that offered a concert at the 50th Anniversary celebration in Hartford. So many memories of Kekapa who was a kind, gentle, thought- ful and caring soul. A wonderful smile and warm heart generously shared with so many. Prayers for his family that he loved so dearly; I heard many stories of them over the years.
–Edith Guffey, Conference Minister, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference UCC
Kekapa and I first worked together when he was on Hawai‘i Conference staff in the 1980’s and we worked on West Regional stuff together. Then there were many interactions over the years. He was a kind, gentle soul who taught me a lot about the Hawaiian culture through example. I continue to listen to his wonderful CD of music whenever I am driving around Tennessee!
–Rev. Char Burch, Transitional Conference Minister, Southeast Conference UCC and John Thomas, former UCC General Minister and President.
Kekapa Lee graduated from the University of Hawai‘i Hilo campus after serving in the U.S. Army. He then enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary. “It was a feeling, a sense that God was call- ing to me,” he said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Wayne Ibarra, Pastor, Makiki Christian Church
From the early 1990s toward the early 2000s, the Hawai‘i Conference expe- rienced a moment in time—Associate Conference Minister staffing through
PHILIP MARK, RETIRED PASTOR AND ASSOCIATE CONFERENCE MINISTER
Perspective from the Co-Chair. December 30, 2018
Good Morning, FCC Congregation. My name is Arthur Wong. I was co-chairmen
Our search took about 2 years, and we had about 35 candidates. We learned
The second sign was when I called one of his references. This person was an
When Pastor Kekapa came to FCC, he taught us how the play the ukulele; how to
REMEMBRANCES OF OUR BELOVED PASTOR KEKAPA LEE
THANK YOU GOD for Your plans to send our Beloved Pastor Kekapa to be our Kahu [Pastor] at the First Chinese Church of Christ in Hawaii.
MAHALO for directing his life from his home in Ola’a, Hawaii and sending him to Haili Congregational Church in Hilo via a bus on weekends. He attended Sunday School & CE there, sang in the choir, learned play the ukulele and played volleyball in their large gym.
He graduated from Kamehameha School in Honolulu, Served in the U.S. Army; graduated from University of Hawaii at Hilo and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Master’s degree in Divinity.
He joined the United Church of Christ Conference staff from 1980 to 1987; served as Pastor at Waiola Church on Maui; was Temporary Pastor at Liliuokalani Church and in 2008 was Acting Pastor at First Chinese Church, and in 2010 was called to be our Senior Pastor at First Chinese Church of Christ.
MAHALO for his appreciation for his Hawaiian and Chinese heritage. He often shared with us that his parents were Elizabeth & Sun Wah Lee of Hilo and Grandfather was Lee Sha Gan who came from Buck Toy Village in Southern China; and Grandmother was Kahuaka’inui Lee. Pastor Kekapa’s real name was :
MAHALO for his ministry at First Chinese Church. He flavored our church with Hawaiian words that remains with us today. He taught us to be an OHANA [family]. He taught us KULEANA [responsibility] in his weekly sermons that were emailed to shut-ins and printed for us on Sundays; taught Bible studies; shared Bible stories and songs to our FCCC Preschoolers [KEIKIs] every Wednesday in the sanctuary; led the Chancel Choir temporarily; visited our ohana in homes, hospitals, care & nursing homes with communion, devotionals and music; performed at weddings, funerals, blessings of homes, businesses and even blessing of animals on a special Sunday. He participated in community events like the Veterans’ Day services at Hawaiian Memorial Park, every Memorial Day.
He always lived by good words and deeds. He displayed KOKUA [helping] by working with EGF (Energetic Gospel Fellowship) on Friday evenings with high school students who came to play sports in the gym, eat a light dinner and he shared devotions with them. He also helped by driving some of them home. He worked by moving items and getting people in our church to participate with Party In the Park at Thomas Square with neighbor United Methodist Church to feed, clothe, and provide necessities for the homeless living in our neighborhood.
He helped in our Missions & Craft Fairs and also purchase10 lunches and shared them with the homeless around our church. He always reminded us to say these people were houseless , not homeless. He truly had compassion for others.
Every Good Friday he and members of both congregations carried a huge wooden cross from the church, down Ward Avenue, on Kapiolani Boulevard, up Pensacola and back to church. Some people stopped them and asked why they were doing this, and they got a chance to tell them about Jesus dying on the cross for them.
He started All Saints’ Sunday – Remembrance Sunday in November when families and friends were invited to light candles for family members or friends who had passed away from November last year to the present November – a touching service to remember as each name was called.
We will always remember and cherish his ALOHA [ love] for music. He had a beautiful strong voice. He started our Ukulele Fellowship on Fridays for our ohana and outsiders, conducting beginners classes and practicing with advanced players. They shared their ministry to care and nursing homes in the community, at funerals, in special church programs and being part of the Sunday worship service on the second Sunday of the month. Some of the recordings are on YouTube.
MAHALO for his encouragement of KOKUA [helping one another] in a December 9th sermon: “God, in Christ comes for us and uses us to care for each other, our neighborhoods, our church and the world”
MAHALO for the teaching of KULEANA [responsibility] to share the Good News of God’s love with others and for others to see God present in each of our lives. (I found one of his sermons recently that he gave on June 25, 2017 entitled: “WE ARE TO MIRROR GOD’S ALOHA!’ …)
TO OUR BELOVED PASTOR KEKAPA LEE,
MAHALO NUI LOA [thank you very much!,
A HUI HOU [until we meet again] …
Lynn & Gloriette