About Abraham Kahikina Akaka
Abraham Kahikina Akaka (February 21, 1917 – September 10, 1997) was an American clergyman. Born in the Pauoa Valley on the island of Oahu. For the better part of three decades, Rev. Akaka was Kahu (shepherd) of Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother was of pure Hawaiian ancestry, and his father was of Hawaiian-Chinese ancestry. He delivered his messages in both the Hawaiian and English languages.
Abraham Akaka was the fourth of seven children in a deeply spiritual family. His youngest brother is United States Senator Daniel Akaka. Each morning the Akaka household would begin with a prayer, recitation of Psalm 23 in Hawaiian, a Scripture recitation by each child, and hymn singing. The routine was repeated at the close of day. The Akaka family often looked after, and provided shelter for, disadvantaged children.
A graduate of President William McKinley High School in Honolulu, Akaka did undergraduate work at the University of Hawaii, and received his B.A. degree at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1939. He received his B.D. degree at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1943.
Call to the ministry
Abraham Akaka was ordained into the ministry in 1944.
He was drawn to the ministry in 1939, when he was 22 years old, while attending the multi-national World Conference of Christian Youth in Amsterdam. He realized that with little commonality except their faith, the 2000 attendees were one body in their belief in Jesus Christ. With the vision of his faith as a unifyng force for good, Akaka felt the call to the ministry while at the conference.
Akaka served for two years with the Western Kauai Larger Parish Council, nine years ministering to five different churches on Maui, and three years pastoring at Haili Church in Hilo, before accepting a call to shepherd Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu in 1957.
Kawaiahaʻo Church, located across the street from ʻIolani Palace and the Hawaii State Capitol, gave him the visibility to become"...Hawaii's most influential and widely known Hawaiian since Kamehameha the Great." From that pulpit, Akaka would become a champion for civil rights, a spiritual guide to all level of government servants, and statesman for the good of humanity.
Akaka also had his own revised version of Einstein's famous E=mc2 equation : (Creative Mutuality, squared) CM 2=P (Prosperous peace) . He believed this formula held the hope for the world.
An eloquent speaker, it is from Akaka's March 13, 1959 address at Hawaii's formal statehood ceremony that we have a clear image of the moment of the statehood announcement:
"Yesterday, when the first sound of firecrackers and sirens reached my ears, I was with the members of our Territorial Senate in the middle of the morning prayer for the day's session. How strange it was, and yet how fitting, that the news should burst forth while we were in prayer together. Things had moved so fast. Our mayor, a few minutes before, had asked if the church could be kept open, because he and others wanted to walk across the street for prayer when the news came. By the time I got back from the Senate, this sanctuary was well filled with people who happened to be around, people from our government buildings nearby. And as we sang the great hymns of Hawaii and our nation, it seemed that the very walls of this church spoke of God's dealing with Hawaii in the past, of great events both spontaneous and planned."
Akaka was the first chairman of the Hawaii Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Akaka was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, joining the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. He sent the flower leis seen in photos draped around the necks of King and others in the March 21–25, 1965 Third Selma Civil Rights March when King delivered his How Long, Not Long speech.
In 1972, when Kamehameha Schools faced the legal challenge of its "Hawaiians only" admission policy, and their policy of Protestant-only teachers, Akaka mounted a defense on behalf of the dwindling Native Hawaiian population.
Akaka was a ukulele player, who incorporated the instrument into his messages, and leading attendees in the singing. In a 1970 sermon at Kawaiahaʻo attended by President Richard Nixon, Akaka likened various races of the earth to ukulele strings, demonstrating how beautiful the result when they work together. That analogy would be repeated by Akaka over the years in many sermons.
Entertainer Danny Kaleikini felt that singing in the choir at Kawaiahaʻo helped set him on the road to success and a good life. Kaleikini calls Rev. Akaka "one of the greatest mentors in the history of the world." He described Akaka as an astute personality whose one-on-one guidance helped Kaleikini build an inner foundation that guided him through life.
Seldom a day went by when there wasn't news of Akaka appearing at one public function or another, often delivering invocations or blessing new homes and buildings, bus fleets and animals.
Retirement and final days
He retired from Kawaiahaʻo Church in 1984, and began to channel his energies to The Reverend Abraham Kahu Akaka Ministries Foundation, established to focus on:
Kōkua – Direct Help to Meet Need
Kōkua (help) to Churches
Scholarships and help to Schools and Individuals requesting assistance in their educational goals. Peace on Earth – to Organizations for Worldwide Humanitarian Work
Never having fully retired, his last activity before his death was to conduct a service at Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery in Kaneohe. Collapsing shortly thereafter, he was in intensive care before dying on September 10, 1997 of a dissecting aortic aneurysm.