Jonipher Kūpono Kwong
The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong has served as Congregational Life Staff in the Pacific Western Region since 2015. He also serves as a Program Leader for the UU College of Social Justice. He is the Co-Dean (along with Rev. Renee Ruchotzke) of the UU Leadership Institute and is the Regional Specialist for Leadership Development, Covenantal Partnerships, Racial Justice (Multicultural Transformation) and Social Justice. Jonipher currently resides in Los Angeles, California with his husband of 19 years and their 10 year old cat Swipher.
Born and raised in the Philippines, most of Jonipher's adult life was spent in California and Hawai'i. He recently served as the Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu—where President Barack Obama went to Sunday School as a child. Jonipher founded ‘Ohana Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Honolulu, served as interim minister at Resurrection Beach MCC, and consulting minister at Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society and the Temecula Valley Unitarian Universalist Community. His nonprofit experience included serving as Executive Director of the Counseling & Spiritual Care Center of Hawai‘i and API Equality-LA.
Raised in an ecumenical background, Dr. Kwong values his pluralistic upbringing—from Evangelical to United Methodist, Episcopalian to Calvary Chapel. He was christened at a Gospel church and baptized as a Chinese Mennonite. In Hawai‘i, Jonipher was a member of the Honolulu Mindfulness Community, a sangha influenced by Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Dr. Kwong obtained his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Claremont School of Theology. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to getting “the call,” Jonipher worked in the film industry for three years, followed by two years as a Graphics Specialist at McKinsey & Company in Los Angeles.