The Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kūpono Kwong works with over 30 congregations in the Pacific Western Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) as Congregational Life Staff, specializing in Multicultural Transformation and Leadership Development. He also serves as a Program Leader for the UU College of Social Justice.
Dr. Kwong obtained his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Claremont School of Theology. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Jonipher and his husband Chris have the distinct honor of being the first gay couple to legally wed in the state of Hawai’i at 12:07 a.m. on December 2, 2013. They currently reside in Los Angeles, California with their 10 year old cat Swipher.
Born and raised in the Philippines (of Chinese descent), most of Jonipher’s adult life was spent in California and Hawai’i. He served several congregations during his over decade-long ministry including: First Unitarian Church of Honolulu (where former President Barack Obama attended Sunday School), Sepulveda UU Society, Temecula Valley UU Community, ‘Ohana Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Honolulu and Resurrection Beach MCC in Orange County, CA. His non-profit leadership included serving as Executive Director of the Counseling & Spiritual Care Center of Hawai‘i and API Equality-LA.
Raised in an ecumenical background, Dr. Kwong values his pluralistic upbringing – from Evangelical to United Methodist, Episcopalian to Calvary Chapel. He was christened at a Gospel church and baptized as a Chinese Mennonite. In Hawai‘i, Jonipher was a member of the Honolulu Mindfulness Community, a sangha influenced by Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn.
Prior to getting “the call,” Jonipher worked in the film industry for three years, followed by two years as a Graphics Specialist at McKinsey & Company in LA.