RIP: Richard Sui On Chang, fourth bishop of Hawaii

Posted Aug 31, 2017

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Richard Sui On Chang, the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Hawaii, died Aug. 30 after a short illness.

Chang served from 1997 to 2006 when he was succeeded by Robert L. Fitzpatrick, who had been his canon to the ordinary.

He was the first Episcopal Church bishop of Chinese ancestry; he was born in Honolulu. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and a Master of Divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary in Berkeley, California. He also studied at the University of Hawaii.

George Richard Millard, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of California, ordained Chang to the diaconate in March 1966. Then-Bishop of Hawaii Harry S. Kennedy ordained him to the priesthood six months later.

Chang served in several roles in Hawaii before becoming the diocese’s archdeacon from 1970 to 1974. After the first bishop of Hawaii, the Rt. Rev. Edmond Browning, was installed as the Episcopal Church’s 24th presiding bishop, Chang served as his assistant. He was the executive officer of the diocese when Browning was bishop in Hawaii.

Chang served for a time as vice president of the House of Bishops.

He is survived by his wife, Delia Chang, and daughters Holly and Hannah. A celebration of Chang’s life is set for Sept. 17 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, Honolulu. Family visitation is 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., followed by the service.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Chang was the first Native Hawaiian bishop in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Lani Hanchett (1919-1975), the first bishop of Hawaii (1967-1975), was born in the Hawaiian Islands. Chang, who was born in Honolulu, was the first bishop of the Episcopal Church of Chinese ancestry.



Comments (4)

  1. Heather Mueller says:

    Dear Dee,
    It was +Dick who invited me to Hawaii and opened the door to a wonderful life and ministry, which I enjoyed in the Aloha State. I am so grateful to you and to +Dick for all of the wonderful support and the ministries you both exercised in Hawaii and New York.
    May his soul and the souls of all the departed rest in Peace.
    Love, Heather Mueller+

  2. The Rev. Dr. Peter E. Van Horne says:

    My wife and I knew Dick and Dee for many years because of our many years in the diocese of Hawai’i, and we have great memories of that time. However, ENS is wrong about one thing. The first bishop who was “native to the islands” was Bishop Lani Hanchett who first was elected Suffragan Bishop and later Diocesan Bishop of Hawai’i. Lani was a native Hawaiian who was born and reared in the islands. Sadly, he died early of cancer in 1975 and was succeeded in 1976 by Ed Browining.

    1. I sent the following to “The Living Church” to correct the same mistake: “Thank you for the for note about our beloved late Bishop. As a slight correction to the article: Both Bishop Lani Hanchett (1919-1975), the 1st Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaiʻi (1967-1975), and Bishop Richard Chang (1941-2017), the 4th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai’i (1997-2007), were born here in the Islands. Both were also graduates of ‘Iolani School, Honolulu. Bishop Hanchett was the first Native Hawaiian bishop in the Episcopal Church and Bishop Chang was first Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of Chinese ancestry. Mahalo, Robert Fitzpatrick, 5th Bishop of Hawaiʻi”

  3. Judy Wright Mathews says:

    My dear d.–

    I am using this form of correspondence because of Hurricane Irma. I am now back in my home and can read this sad news of Dick’s death. Please accept my very deepest sympathy for your AND our loss. I will be in touch later with a more proper note of sympathy to you and your family.

    Love and care, Judy

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