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