Jonipher Kūpono Kwong

Full name: Rev Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong (he/they)

Headshot of Jonipher Kwong wearing a gray suit with dark green background.

The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong currently serves as Interim Senior Minister at Fourth Universalist Society in New York, NY. Previously, Jonipher served as the UUA's Ministerial Credentialing Director and Congregational Life Staff for the Pacific Western Region. He is also a Program Leader for the UU College of Social Justice.

Born and raised in the Philippines, most of Jonipher's adult life was spent in California and Hawai'i. He served as the Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu—where former 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.

From Jonipher Kūpono Kwong

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Ministry is a complex profession with a lot of regular duties that are not always apparent. Here is short summary of what parish ministers do.

By Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, Sarah Movius Schurr | July 25, 2023 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Support for Ministers

Many of our congregations can sometimes get stuck in polarized, either/or thinking. Are you an atheist or a theist? Are you racist or woke? The deeper spiritual truth is such divisions are an illusion.

By Jonipher Kūpono Kwong | May 14, 2020 | From Pacific Western Region
Tagged as: Multiculturalism, Faith Development, Membership Growth & Outreach

Guidelines and recommended platforms for voting by computer, device, or phone.

By Larry Stritof, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong | March 30, 2020 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: #COVID19, Effective Meetings, Governance for Congregations

I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church where I was taught early on that you are either ‘with us’ or ‘against us.’ A sheep or a goat, saved or damned to hell for eternity. It wasn’t a far leap from being either a conservative or a liberal, male or female, straight or gay. Each...

By Jonipher Kūpono Kwong | February 12, 2020 | From Pacific Western Region

Online Training. Develop a deeper understanding of how to focus your congregation on mission, build trust and develop a cohesive leadership team. Learn about stewardship, strategic planning, annual goal setting and ministry assessment and the basics of congregational governance.

Training | By UU Leadership Institute, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, Kathy McGowan, Renee Ruchotzke | November 21, 2019 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Governing Boards, Mission/Vision/Planning, Leadership Development

Online Leadership School includes family and other systems thinking applied to congregations. (Similar to Healthy Congregations®) Learn healthy leadership practices, communication and conflict skills, the importance of being mission-focused and how to communicate across differences.

Training | By UU Leadership Institute, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, Kathy McGowan, Renee Ruchotzke | November 21, 2019 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Leadership Development

Online Leadership School for new leaders and those interested in possible leadership. Covers covenant, healthy communication and boundaries, shared ministry, and stewardship & an introduction to congregational polity, UU theologies, and the wider UU movement.

Training | By UU Leadership Institute, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, Kathy McGowan, Renee Ruchotzke | November 21, 2019 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Leadership Development

RACI charts are helpful to be clear about shared process, especially the part about which body gets to have “final” say.

Leader Resource | By Jonipher Kūpono Kwong | November 18, 2019 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Shared Ministry Teams

As Susan Frederick-Gray mentioned during her president’s report at General Assembly in June, LeaderLab is a tremendous resource for congregational leaders. Discover LeaderLab resources. You can go there for extensive training by taking one of the full length leadership courses from the Unitarian...

By Kathy McGowan, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, Renee Ruchotzke | August 29, 2019 | From Southern Region

The interdependence of our faith communities is integral to our polity (as is our independence). This is what makes us an Association of congregations. What can this interrelationship look like when it comes to congregational staff? Here are a few examples: Newly hired staff are welcomed and...

Leader Resource | By Jan Gartner, Jonipher Kūpono Kwong, UUA Office of Church Staff Finances, Ministries and Faith Development | August 4, 2019 | From LeaderLab
Tagged as: Change & Conflict, Healthy Behavior, Interdependence, Staffing & Supervision

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