HONOLULU — Singer and church member Marie Osmond sang at a historic Protestant church Oct. 12 for an interfaith devotional focused on music and the Savior.
Other Christian performers joined Osmond and about a thousand people from various churches across Oahu that evening in Kawaiaha’o Church, where 19th-century Hawaiian royalty worshipped. The church, which traces its beginnings to the arrival of the first Christian missionaries in Hawaii in 1820, is today affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Its main sanctuary opened in 1842.
Osmond, who already planned to be in Honolulu for a concert to celebrate her 50-year music career with her four oldest brothers — Jay, Merrill, Alan and Wayne Osmond, nephew David Osmond (Alan’s son), and singer and friend Alex Boyé on Oct. 13, made herself available on the two preceding days for interfaith activities.
“We are all Christians,” Marie Osmond said as she took the microphone that evening. “We are united in God and through our Savior Jesus Christ, and we are his children — his ohana.” (Ohana means “family” in Hawaiian.)
Nephew David Osmond told the interfaith group, “Tonight I have an even bigger ohana. We have so much more in common than we even realize. Music is so powerful. I love that this is a musical event. Music is a universal language that we all speak. Music is what feelings sound like, especially as we unite and testify of who we are and what we have in common as believers in a Savior who saved every one of us.”
Boyé delighted the audience next when he sang his Africanized version of "How Great Thou Art." Boyé said feeling the Lord’s Spirit is like being in the “eye of the storm. Oh, it is so beautiful to know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That’s what I believe the eye of the storm is.”
Later, Marie Osmond sang a beautiful requiem, and addressed the interfaith group again.
“I am so touched by all of you here this evening, and I hope you feel our Savior’s love in your heart, from giving hope to those who are hopeless to lifting those are in need. We are in a world of darkness, and Christ is our light. We should share with all.”
At that point, she also gave everyone in the devotional two complimentary tickets to her concert the next evening.
“I love my family,” she continued. “I am a product of beautiful parents who showed us — not told us — their love of God. Their love for each other emphasized our love as siblings.”
Her parents, George and Olive Osmond, served as senior missionaries at the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors Center in the 1980s.
“We talk about the difficult things that we go through. I don’t know anybody right now who isn’t going through something challenging in their lives. We’ve all been through it. God is no respecter of people. He doesn’t care who we are in this life, he cares what we are in this life.”
Referring to some of her own trials, Marie Osmond continued, “I can honestly tell you that I do understand. I understand darkness and depression, and those things that can sometimes feel overwhelming. But I promise you there’s great light in Christ. There’s healing in Christ. When I felt I couldn’t breathe, he lifted me in his love and in his arms and helped me continue to walk forward.”
“Each of the other participants also carried specific messages that contributed to the overall devotional and the spirit of the event, and all were of equal importance,” Hawaii Public Affairs director H. Wailana Kamau’u Jr. said after the performance.
Participants included a small choir from the St. John Apostle and Evangelical Catholic Church choir from Mililani; Gabby Pahinui, grandson of well-known Hawaiian slack key player and singer Gabby “Pops” Pahinui, from New Hope Windward Church in Kaneohe; a Samoan Seventh-day Adventist men’s choir from various congregations across the island; ukulele master and teacher Roy Sakuma; and the Latter-day Saints group Musical Truth, led by Jolene Kanahele of Laie.
“The Marie Osmond and Friends: Unity Through Music interfaith devotional was a spiritual success,” Kamau’u said, noting the council only had about a month to arrange the details. “Miracle after miracle occurred to make this event happen. Things and people came into place just when we needed them. We couldn’t have done this without the Lord’s help.”
For example, in finding a Honolulu venue where a sizable interfaith crowd could meet and feel comfortable, Kamau’u was prompted to contact his cousin, Kenneth Makuakane, who had recently become senior pastor at Kawaiaha’o Church. He readily agreed to Kamau’u’s request. They share a common ancestry through William H. Kamau’u, a senior pastor at Kawaiaha’o from 1934-1940.
Makuakane — who usually goes by the title kahu, which means “shepherd” in Hawaiian — said, “As the home pastor of this beautiful building, I’m just flabbergasted by how God moves, because this was never supposed to happen. We were so unprepared, and of course in our unpreparedness, we just had to go to our knees. And when we were on our knees was when God lifted this whole thing and said, follow me. I’ll show you the way. It was incredible. This was all God-driven.”
“I feel changed," he added. "We all are changed because we’ve come into each other’s lives. This is not a coincidence. God put us together. I am so filled with the Spirit right now.”
President James Bekker of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “I’ve worked for two years with the interfaith group here in Honolulu, and every event has been small — until tonight. This is an event that the church has worked hard to put together and brought together people from all faiths in an amazing way. The spirit here was wonderful, and people truly felt united. I think it was a huge success.”
Former Hawaii state senator Brickwood Galuteria, who is also chairman of the Kawaiaha’o Church board of trustees, said, “When Ken (Makuakane) informed the trustees that we were going to have an interfaith service, I didn’t realize the scale; but this was wonderful. The church is just a building — a beautiful building, I will say that, and it’s got an incredible history, but it comes alive with spirit. This is the kind of event people will remember for the rest of our lives.”
Tickets to the interfaith gathering were free, but the Hawaii Public Affairs Council encouraged each guest to donate a can of food to the Kawaiaha’o Church food pantry program. Full-time missionaries from the Hawaii Honolulu Mission assisted with collecting the cans. Students from BYU–Hawaii and the Waipahu Hawaii Stake Young Single Adult Branch also helped usher at the event.
A video of the devotional was captured by a BYU–Hawaii Media Production Center team, which live-streamed the event. It is available at mormonnewsroom.org/article/hawaii-interfaith-devotional-features-marie-osmond or on youtube.com.1 comment on this story
The Hawaii Public Affairs Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — charged among other objectives to build relationships with leaders and members of different faiths in the community — worked with Marie Osmond to attend the event.
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated Marie Osmond was in Hawaii for 50th birthday concert. Osmond was in Hawaii to celebrate her 50-year music career along with a "Hawaiian birthday celebration."