Central Union pastor
quits pulpit

The Rev. Robinson will give his
last sermon tomorrow at
Punchbowl cemetery


Thursday, April 15, 2003

>> The Rev. Ted Robinson gave his last sermon as Central Union Church's senior pastor at the church on Sunday. A story on Page D5 on Saturday said incorrectly that he would give it at the annual sunrise service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

The Rev. Edward "Ted" Robinson will deliver the keynote address tomorrow at the 103rd annual sunrise service at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl -- his last sermon as senior pastor of Central Union Church in Honolulu.

The Rev. Edward "Ted" Robinson is retiring as pastor of Central Union Church but does not expect to be idle.

Robinson, who is retiring after 19 years as head pastor of the 150-year-old church, said his sermon will tell people at the service that "God is still in control of this world, and if we follow God's way, we will discover his power in our own lives. ... Even if we may face difficulties (on a national level as well as personally), it doesn't mean that it is the end. ... There is this resurrection that makes things new in life, and the life to come.

"I believe that some sort of a life is to come (after people die), and it means more than just being a drop of water in the bucket of life. I strongly believe that ... the love and identity we were born with will continue in some way in the hereafter," he said in an interview with the Star-Bulletin.

While Robinson says he is looking forward to retirement so he can "get out there and feel my way through a little bit," instead of adhering to a strict schedule. He said it is unlikely that he will be idle.

Robinson said he has always wanted to assist "a smaller congregation that really needs some help." That is because he has led large churches in his 34-year career as a United Church of Christ Congregational minister.

Robinson is satisfied that he has accomplished the things he set out to do at Central Union when he arrived in 1985, after serving churches in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

"One of my visions was that the door of the church would be wide, very welcoming to people" of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, he said.

Its 2,500 members "are not all haole like Ted Robinson," he said, and they "are not all wealthy people," he added.

"We have a ministry and worship at Ala Moana Park for the homeless, and some have become part of our church. The parish has a Bible study for homeless people once a week, with 25 showing up," Robinson said.

Allowing homosexuals to join the church is not an issue, he said.

"It's not a question we ask of people (about their sexual preference) at the door. ... It's definitely not what Christ called us to be about. All are welcome. That has been our position traditionally."

He also wanted the church to be more than "just a weekend-type church. I wanted it to be a seven-days-a-week church," he said.

The church recently completed a $10 million building project that includes three new buildings that house an senior day-care center, a family life center (including the thrift shop), Bible study classes, a youth center and a technical center to teach people how to use computers.

The Boys & Girls Club of Honolulu uses the church facilities for students to hang out after school. Many other groups also hold special meetings or classes, thus allowing the church "to meet people's needs" in the neighborhood.

Central Union also has the first parish nurse program in the state, which was initiated to help people deal with health problems common to the elderly, educate parents about nutritious diets for their children and the like, he said.

Angels Bakery was started at Christmas to teach five people how to bake as well as other entrepreneurial skills, he added.

Robinson also chaired a committee of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ some years ago that drew up a resolution "expressing our apology to people of Hawaiian ancestry" for being a part of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.

The Congregational church "came with the missionaries" who first settled in Hawaii, he said. Afterward, he said, a Hawaiian woman in her 90s came up to him and said, "I've been waiting for this my whole life."

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