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Danny Kaopuiki's

Kama`aina Profile

December 2004

Wendell Kapena “Skip” Wright

…..Through the years, from ancient (Kahiko) times to the present (keia manawa) era, our beloved Hawaiian culture has been based on and guided by “Aloha ke Akua”, our love for God! With the passing of the Hawaiian Kingdom and our adored Ali`i (Kings and Queens), no one Hawaiian word commands as much respect today as the word KAHU (religious leader)! As we enter into that time each year when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, the time seems right to profile one of the several Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest who have chosen to be a Kahu...

Born and raised in Kalihi, Wendell Kapena “Skip” Wright is the son of Matthew Wright and Jewel Wedemeyerfor those who are trying to remember where you might have heard the Wedemeyer name before, Skip’s uncles are Herman Wedemeyer (the first All-American football player from Hawai`i, he acted as “Duke Lukela” on “Hawaii Five-0”) and Charley Wedemeyer, star athlete and coach whose life was the basis for a TV movie about his courageous battle with the debilitating ALS disease (more Skip & Dianecommonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.) Charley still continues to help coach football at Los Gatos HS despite being confined to a wheelchair! Skip graduated from the Kamehameha Schools in 1970. The Wright family is a huge `Ohana spread throughout the Hawaiian chain. Skip and his brother Sparky spent a great part of their lives growing up on Lana`i, with their adopted `Ohana Elaine and Sammy Kaopuiki, the Kauwena`ole and the Kaho`ohalahala families.

Skip Wright’s life was to travel many different routes before he was ready to “don the robes” and accept the responsibilities of a full time Kahu. He served in the US Air Force and was involved in the “Operation Baby Lift” and “Operation New Life” programs in which hundreds of Vietnamese children and families were evacuated to America following the Viet Nam war. Skip also served twice as a member of the Honolulu Police Department, resigning after his second tour so he could devote his life to become a Kahu, a Minister of Christ! He was first ordained in the Agape Word Church in Mō`ili`ili on O`ahu but Skip says he first felt the calling to the Ministry while he was a student body chaplain at Kamehameha, when he was asked to give a sermonette to the senior class.

Reverend (Kahu)WENDELL K. WRIGHT’s story (mo`olelo) is about a man who has chosen to spend the rest of his life helping people (especially his Polynesian `Ohana,) by spreading Aloha and Aloha Ke Akua through his Kapena Wright Ministries. Kahu and his lovely wife Diane (a Seattle native which is one reason why Kahu Wright now resides here in Washington State ) are very active with the Christian Faith Center ’s North Church in Mill Creek , Washington where Kahu Wright helps with a young adults group and leads home bible study groups. Kahu Wright and Diane will soon be starting a monthly “pa`ina (dine) and praise” event where Polynesians and Polynesians “at heart” can gather at Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant in Everett to share their Aloha Ke Akua. Kahu Wright is also part of a group of Polynesian men called I Mau Lawai`a Kanaka (fishers of Men) who spread Aloha Ke Akua through island style music and song!

In its early stages, our Hawaiian culture revolved around religious faiths that honored various and different deities, but with the passage of time, it has been Aloha Ke Akua that has enabled our culture to live on. Reverend Wendell Wright’s story is just one of several that could be told about Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest who have chosen to be a Kahu, a lifestyle low in material riches but profoundly rewarding in a million other ways. It is with great humility that I say “Mahalo nui loa” to Kahu Wendell Wright, and to other Hawaiians like “Pastor Clyde” Yoshida (Christian Ohana Fellowship in Milwaukie, Oregon,) Minister James Sequeira (Cascade View Church, Vancouver, Washington,) and Pastor Jon Burgess (New Hope Fellowship in Seattle) for continuing to speak Aloha and Aloha Ke Akua in the Pacific Northwest!

Mele Kalikimaka e Hau`oli Makahiki Hou to one and all! Be kind to each other…..me ke Aloha pumehana…..Danny Kaopuiki


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