(BIVN) – State Senator Russell Ruderman and Hawaiʻi County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy spoke in strong support of Connect Point Church, as the Hawaiian Homes Commission considers granting the church a right of entry permit for its location in Waiakea Industrial area of Hilo.
“I’m not a member of the church,” testified Sen. Ruderman, “but I’m here to say that this church, in particular, helped my community of Puna during the lava flow last year, more than almost anybody else did.”
The Crown Room of the Grand Naniloa hotel was full of church members who came to support the church as it tries to work out a deal that would allow it to continue using the Hawaiian Home Lands where its church is located.
According to the Hawaiian Homes Commission agenda:
On September 20, 2019, Connect Point Church Pastor, The Reverend Dion Maeda addressed the Hawaiian Homes Commission to seek a long-term disposition for their Church currently occupying the subject parcel in the Kaei Hana I Industrial Subdivision. They were unfortunately involved in an illegal sublease by the former General Lessee or the property. This Lease was cancelled by the Commission in May 2019. Following cancellation of the General Lease, [land management division] staff worked directly with the Church to develop a short-term disposition while simultaneously seeking a long-term resolution that would ultimately benefit all parties involved.
“Pastor Dion Maeda led, convened, and was the chair of a faith leaders group which met weekly for more than three months,” said Senator Ruderman, “and was the quick response team. While our government agencies were moving extremely slowly, this was a group of people that moved really fast and provided food and housing to people who were in desperate urgent need. And Pastor Dion was the one who stepped forward to do that. This church also established the Hale iki tiny house village in Puna, the second of the small tiny house villages, providing temporary housing for people who lost their homes. They didn’t have to help. It wasn’t easy to help. Their insurance company, I’m sure, and plenty of other people, advised them to stay out of it. But they did it anyway, as their faith directed them to.”
“Let’s not forget the social fabric that our community needs,” councilwoman Lee Loy said, “because we hear all too often they feel disadvantaged, that they feel forgotten.”
“We are in favor of the approval for the one-year right of entry,” testified Pastor Dion, “but we are not in favor of DHHL public auctioning off our property in the next year. We do know that we are on an industrial commercial zone land and I do know that the Commission has the power to work with us to keep us in place and not seek a public auction.”
A DHHL spokesperson says, per the church’s request, a decision on the right-of-entry was deferred to the Maui meeting to give the church more time to review the terms of the permit.