September 11, 2023

ASpecial Update on Maui from Canon Sandy

Aloha Beloved Diocesan ‘Ohana and friends,

A few weeks have passed since the Bishop’s Pastoral Note to us, written after his trip to Maui right after the wildfires. In his message, he mentioned I would be spending a few days each week on-island offering the in-person support of the Diocesan Support Center (DSC) to Holy Innocents and in any place or moment where it is needed or would be helpful. With three of these weekly trips taken, and the most immediate and expedient response at least begun, I write to offer a summary of where things are at the moment.

Holy Innocents, Lāhainā

The first undertaking was to get accurate information about the congregation members of Holy Innocents, and connect with them as best we could. Bruce DeGooyer, Donna Tarsitano, and I worked through old copies of directories and prayed and talked through all of the names there. With this work completed (and through subsequent updates), we can confirm that within the congregation, there was one death and nine who lost their homes. Diocesan and local congregational support from other Churches on Maui have been made available, but of course it is an evolving situation.

The plan at the moment is to remove all possible burdens from the shoulders of the people and leadership of Holy Innocents. Congregational finances, with the exception of a helping/alms account, will move to the Diocesan Support Center after a process of review for full transparency. As you might expect, there are a host of accounts to close, insurance to deal with, etc. The goal is that the Holy Innocents faithful won’t have these other things to worry about, so that they can just “be.” One Holy Innocents’ member responded to these words at a recent gathering and liturgy “…and being is hard enough right now.” Diocesan Council had already voted that no further assessments would be charged to Holy Innocents, and, after all contracts and agreements have been settled, their status will change to a “Preaching Station” (like Holy Cross in Kahuku). With the help of a newly-licensed Lay Worship Leader, we look to have regular worship, in at least one house-church-like setting (though not necessarily literally in a house) with periodic additions of clergy for Eucharist. Their mail is being forwarded to Good Shepherd at the moment, with the exception of bills and other accounts which are being transferred to the Diocesan Support Center.

We still do not have full access to the Church or Cemetery sites, but two parishioners were able to gain access with police escort and have retrieved the metal cross from the top of the church which very surprisingly survived, and some records from the safe which are somewhat scorched and fragile (some, we believe, are from the 1860s, as both a Church in Lahaina and a Cathedral in Honolulu were desired by the Ali‘i as two of the first locations). We have been told by preservation experts to leave these records double-bagged and sealed as the ashes they comingled with may well be toxic. They are safe, and we await the best information as to how to effectively clean and protect them.

Holy Innocents’ Preschool

It has been a privilege to spend time and planning energies with the Holy Innocents’ Preschool and Board. The preschool is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Church and the focus of our time is to assist them and their board in moving forward. Diocesan Council had previously voted to financially cover salaries and benefits for Holy Innocents’ employees, which, with Bruce DeGooyer’s retirement, encompasses a part-time Church administrator as well as the school staff. Several of the school staff have also lost homes, so please keep them in your prayers as well.

A Cup of Cold Water

It is a powerful experience to witness and share in the transformational ministry of A Cup of Cold Water. They continue to do amazing work on the ground, ongoing as it has always been and ready to engage again if deployed to assist. Your tremendous generosity of prayers and financial support has been received, and they have also heard from so many from across the globe. Working with the board, our current discussions focus on the most appropriate and effective use of the funds at their disposal.

Church Insurance and Episcopal Relief and Development

Many of us in the DSC have spent hours working with them, and can report that both have been exceptionally helpful and generous in their time, energy, and resources through Zoom gatherings, phone calls, emails (and of course financial support).

Maui Missioner

Our long-term planning includes finding and hiring a “Missioner” – someone who can support our ongoing relief efforts, coordinating with our congregations and relief organizations, connecting with Holy Innocents members specifically, and acting as our liaison with governmental and other organizations. We are thankful for Episcopal Relief and Development for providing job description templates used by Louisiana and Northern California as they responded to their own tragedies in the past. We hope to post this position very soon.

For the time being, I continue to be on Maui two days each week and have had the privilege to work with

  • Holy Innocents’ people and leadership (a particular thank you goes out to Bruce, the retiring Vicar, Donna, the Bishop’s Warden, for our many meetings, and Conor Bezane, Holy Innocents’ administrator who is helping with Mission coordination and communication)

  • Trip Lynch, who is assisting with transparency of the finances as things shift over to the Diocesan Support Center (and for both Trip and Deb for offering their ‘Ohana as a place for me to stay and coordinate work from)

  • The good and faithful people of Good Shepherd (in particular The Rev. Moki Hino and Cora Brown, who have been so very accommodating and caring of the people of Holy Innocents, and the “Women of Good Shepherd” who have done everything from helping individual members with gift cards and other details to making an inordinate number of Spam musubi and laulau for rescue workers).

  • The ACCW Board and volunteers – I was privileged to go on two runs with the ACCW van and meet with their board in person during this last visit.

  • The Preschool Board and staff

I am truly humbled by both the faith, generosity, and the resilience of everyone I’ve interacted with.

Back at the office, special thanks must go to Rae Costa, who has tirelessly worked with the various corporations to bring things to a good close, Sam Okita who’s getting ready to work with all of the finances, Nani Carroll who’s somehow keeping everything and everyone together in the midst of so much activity, and Brett Johnson who has an eye on our various projects while our attention is pulled in so many different directions.

Mahalo to you all for your prayers and donations. As the niece of the artist who painted the “Hawaiian Madonna and Child” told me recently in an email: “Belief in a better tomorrow binds us all.” We know we’re all in this together for the long haul, and by the grace and mercy of God will continue to offer works of mercy and live lives of hope.

For the latest information and links to assistance (giving or receiving) please visit:

Mahalo & God bless,


The Rev. Cn. Alexander (Sandy) Graham

Canon to the Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i



MAUI DISASTER RELIEF - DEDICATED WEBPAGE NOW UP: The Diocese has set up a dedicated webpage on the main website that will contain all the latest information, photos and reports from the ground, resources, and updates on the Maui fires, as we receive them. Click HERE to go there now. You can also visit the Diocese's Facebook page HERE where photos and other info are widely shared.

Quick Links to the Diocesan Websites:

Contact Information
Sybil Nishioka, Editor & Communications Specialist
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
229 Queen Emma Square, Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 536-7776