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“We live Aloha because He is Aloha … the presence of divine breath.”

And with that powerful quote from a local worship singer, Foursquare Connection 2016 kicked off last night in Honolulu, back in the Hawaiian Islands for the first time since 2000.

For the first time ever, the annual international gathering of Foursquare ministers started with a special ‘Ohana Dinner. The energetic night began with a greeting from President Glenn Burris Jr. and District Supervisor Fernando Castillo, and was filled with nearly 2,500 friends and family eating delicious Hawaiian-style food, and enjoying the excellent Polynesian-style entertainment.

Entertainment included some jaw-dropping fire dancers as well as local Hawaiian pastors who performed a traditional Hawaiian dance. The local emcee for the evening, Shon Kihewa, noted that the pastors of Hawaii stand on God’s promises, brave and strong, following the warrior Jesus to victory.

The evening was more than simply entertainment. The dancers and singers weaved together how Christianity came to the islands, illustrating God’s power and forgiveness.

In the theme of forgiveness, Senior Pastor Matt Higa, from New Hope Kaui (Kapaa Foursquare Church) in Kapaa, Hawaii, called local Hawaiians to forgive injustices and let go of past offenses in order to see a fresh outpouring of the Spirit today. President Glenn Burris Jr. joined Matt on stage for a powerful display of forgiveness on both sides, with Matt concluding to a standing ovation: “You are ohana, you are our family.”

Earlier in the evening, Corporate Secretary Sterling Brackett—donning a traditional Hawaiian grass skirt, much to the delight and surprise of the audience—established a quorum for the week. He also noted that the minutes from 2015 were approved.

This week, Foursquare Connection attendees will hear from many speakers under the theme “Empowered.” Glenn has previously noted that the theme comes from the promise and the commission recorded in Acts 1:8, which gave those early believers a focus for the future.

The early church was “Empowered” for unprecedented ministry to:

  1. Compassionately transform communities
  2. Fearlessly embrace the future
  3. Intentionally engage culture
  4. Boldly penetrate the darkness

Worship this week will be led by national recording artist Anthony Evans and Foursquare’s own Tiffany Thurston. Main session speakers are:

  • Author Margaret Feinberg, a national speaker as well as a recent breast cancer survivor and advocate for living with joy.
  • Jon Tyson, lead pastor of Trinity Grace Church, a family of neighborhood churches throughout New York City.
  • Randy Remington, senior pastor of Beaverton Foursquare Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational and socio-economically diverse congregation in Beaverton, Ore.
  • Fernando Castillo, current district supervisor of the Hawaii District, who will be leading the newly converged Hawaii and Southwest Districts starting June 1.
  • Sheldon Lacsina, who serves both as lead pastor of New Hope Hilo Hawaii (Hilo Foursquare Church) in Hilo, Hawaii, and as divisional superintendent of the Big Island and Maui Division.
  • Mike Kai, who leads Inspire Church together with his wife, Lisa. The church is a multisite Foursquare church in Hawaii.

In addition to main-session speakers, events throughout the week include special Training Sessions, Conexión Hispana and Multiethnic Connections. A special business session will also be held, which will give credentialed ministers and delegates the opportunity to discuss and vote on several proposed bylaw amendments. Attendees will also learn more about Reimagine 2.0. Select content from the business sessions will be posted online a few weeks following convention.

The bustling four-day event is due to host nearly 3,000 registered attendees, including 274 children and students. Those not onsite can watch Foursquare Connection Live online starting today, May 31, at 9 a.m. HST. Live broadcast of the main sessions, plus semi-daily wrap-ups, will be available to view through Sunday, June 5.

Sessions can also be purchased as digital downloads online, and will be available to view within four weeks after the conclusion of convention.

is the content, resources + web team lead for The Foursquare Church.