Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Rev. Allison Kanani. A 3.5 generation Chinese American and 5th generation Japanese American Pastor’s Kid, Pastor Allison and her 2 sisters, grew up with many church “aunties, uncles, and cousins” at Waianae and Kilohana UMC, who nurtured and supported her in her calling to ministry. Graduating from University of Washington in Seattle in 2000, with degrees in Sociology, American Ethnic Studies, and Communications, she returned to Hawaii and worked for four years as a Christian Education Director (Kilohana), a middle school typing instructor and Student Activities Coordinator, and high school Speech and Debate Coach (simultaneously!). She also dabbled in student teaching at the University of Hawaii, office administration, and nannying! During that time back in Hawai’i, she became more engaged with community organizing through Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), the interfaith justice organization that her father helped to create.
Answering a call to ministry, she entered seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley in 2004, where she met and befriended your pastor, Rev. Kelvin Sauls, a Trustee on the PSR Board. In seminary, she cultivated her passion for Peace & Justice ministries and Mission & Compassion work, serving first as Buena Vista UMC’s Field Education Intern, and continued for two more years as their Minister of Young Adults and Community Outreach, leading two mission trips to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina Rebuild work (with UMVIM), running Buena Vista’s Community Developer’s Program (CDP) and Endowment, and working with the community young people. She also served on the East Bay’s Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (ICWJ) in Oakland and worked on socio-economic issues with Rev. James Lawson’s brother, Rev. Phil Lawson, and the Cal-Nevada Philippine Human Rights Work, and the Kairos Response in the Holy Land.
In 2008, Pastor Allison was appointed to the Cal-Pac Annual Conference as the Associate Pastor at First UMC Pasadena, the same year she married her husband, Andy Schwiebert, an ordained United Church of Christ pastor. Her ministry portfolio included Youth, Young Adults, Pastoral Care, and Missions, Peace & Justice and in seven years expanded to include Children and Family Ministries, Evangelism & Hospitality, Worship, Administrative duties (Lay Leadership, SPRC, Trustees, Church Council), and supervision of staff and Candidates for Ministry. She has led yearly mission and advocacy trips to Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Palestine/Israel, Arizona, and Hawaii. In February 2015, Rev. Mark was appointed to the Young Clergy Initiative a joint collaborative of the Cal-Pac Annual Conference and Claremont School of Theology. YCI supported Young People called into ordained ministry through workshops, retreats, internships, cultivating congregations in their Culture of Call, and mentoring young people.
Pastor Allison is also very engaged in the work of our Annual Conference and community abroad. Continuing to work for justice issues on the conference’s Philippine, Immigration, and Holy Land Task Forces, Rev. Mark is also a consultant for the conference Young People’s Ministries, serves on the Higher Education and Campus Ministry Committee, the UCLA Wesley Foundation Board, the Cross-Cultural Competency Bridging Team, Center for Pacific Asian American Ministries and Leadership & Discipleship Essential Ministry Team (EMT). Community Engagement also includes Bread for the World (Hunger Justice Leader), Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE L.A.), and Friends Indeed (formerly ECPAC).
Heavily influenced by Rev. James, and his brother Phil Lawsons’ non-violent justice work during the Civil Rights Movement, Pastor Allison and her husband, Pastor Andy, have committed acts of Civil Disobedience in the name of worker justice for OurWalmart workers and Immigration Reform. Their 21-month-old daughter, Kaira is a young activist at heart and has been very supportive, attending every rally and protest with her parents! The Mark-Schwiebert family looks forward to becoming a part of the Holman Church Family.