About

1

Our Mission

The Interfaith Roundtable of Kaua`i exists as a forum of local representatives from different spiritual, religious, and spiritual educational organizations who gather to share our faiths and explore our diversity while focusing on our similarities. We promote understanding, respect and harmony across different spiritual, religious and cultural groups in our shared community of Kaua`i.

The History of the Interfaith Roundtable of Kaua`i

The first meeting of the Roundtable was held on January 18th 2005 at the Kapa’a Hongwanji. For many months prior to that date, I had felt the desire for a broader sense of religious community than that which existed at the time. I wanted to get to know some of the other religious leaders and adherents from other faiths represented on the island.  I wanted to know their thoughts and concerns, what they were doing and how we might ultimately do some good together.

Historically, it is understandable that people once looked across the barriers between cultures and believed that their own religions were inherently superior to that of their neighbors.  But the reality is that we do not live in that world any longer.  The barriers have come down and we have studied each other’s teachings and lived among each other.  Experience has taught us that every culture and religion has its depth and brilliance and its flaws, whether we wish it were so or not.  The truth is that we all have much to learn from each other.

The Interfaith Roundtable was called a “roundtable” for an explicit reason.  There is no head to a round table. Each sits in an equal place on a continuous curve. This means that, at this table, there is no basis for competition.  Whether one religion is superior to another in this setting is not the point.  The point is that we are held in a posture of humility from which we can learn and grow in relation to each other.

As the first chair of the Round Table, I did not have any illusions that my reaching out to bring the group together put my own faith tradition at the ‘head of the table, and very quickly the many personalities representing the different faith perspectives began to enrich my own sense of the blessings of diversity.

At the time we started the Interfaith Roundtable on Kauai, I do not think churches in public forums adequately represented this attitude of humility and openness.  In fact, many Christian leaders were involved in organizing prayer breakfasts with the political leadership on the island. These events were being planned with no intention of including representation from other religions on the island.  It was becoming increasingly clear that the island needed an alternative inclusive voice representing the larger religious community; a voice modeling good will between people of all faiths and a positive attitude toward religious diversity.

I knew that there were many people who felt the way I did.  And so it was not hard to get a group going. Immediately, the Interfaith Alliance on Oahu contributed seed money and advice and we began our planning.  Over the course of our first year, we cultivated the dual goals of:

  1. Learning about each other’s faiths and faith perspectives
  2. Organizing events in order to publicize our shared convictions

Among the highlights of this early period were attendance at one of the prayer breakfasts, interviews on Ho’ike television, providing representation at the Relay for Life event, and holding a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Kukui Grove. It is gratifying to know that the Interfaith Roundtable on Kauai is still active.

With much Aloha,
Reverend James Koyama

Purpose

Inspiring religious/spiritual understanding, peace, and harmony through interfaith participation, dialogue, education, community service, support and involvement, and enhancing the interfaith/spiritual experience on Kaua`i through welcome participation in interfaith events.

Values

Respect for all religious beliefs and spiritual beliefs; freedom to share and express our beliefs in a way that promotes understanding, harmony, cooperation, and connection with others; encouragement of social engagement and teamwork in our religious, spiritual, and secular communities resulting in a unified sense of purpose that is welcoming, all-embracing, authentic, transparent and open.

Guiding Principles

To behave ethically, compassionately, inclusively, and optimistically. We exist for interfaith engagement and understanding, faith expression and celebration, and encourage social harmony through spiritually conscious living. Acting as an “agent of social change” we watch and listen for signs of the community’s changing needs and respond from an interfaith cooperative stance to serve the greater public good. Live your faith, Learn from others, Share your faith, Serve the community.