following was originally posted on the blog -
direction - on
February 18, 2012, by Grant J. Hagiya, the Resident Bishop of the Alaska and
Seattle Regions of the United Methodist Church and is used with his permission.
Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of the Signing of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill
I give you
a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love
for one another.
I greet you in the very name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
letters, like difficult conversations are never easy. However, God never
promised us easy, and there are times when we must take up the cross and
walk in faith. I write today not representing the United Methodist Church,
for only General Conference can do that. So, even though I write this letter
as your Bishop, I hope it will also be received as your friend in Christ.
signing by Governor Gregoire of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in
Washington as of June 7th, the state joins six others in recognizing this
union. Personally, I celebrate the signing into law of the legalization of
same-sex marriage for our state. It is an historic moment for the people of
this geographic region, and it marks a secular turning point in the
liberation of those who have too long been oppressed in our current times. I
celebrate with those who will be free to enjoy equal health and security
benefits through the state institution of marriage.
personally grieve over our United Methodist Church polity that will not
recognize same-sex marriage. I believe that it is wrong, and we should work
for a more inclusive and humane response. The reason for this stance is that
I believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s divine love for the
entire creation, and no one should be shut out from God’s embracing Grace.
God’s Grace is so pure and encompassing that anything that attempts to limit
or control this love must be transformed.
humility, I realize that this represents my faith, and even though I must
live by what I believe, I am fully aware that equally devout United
Methodists have different views. To force my faith onto someone who has a
different or opposing view is also to limit God’s divine love. I believe the
loving example we must set is to come together for dialogue in mutual
respect. Respectful dialogue means that we listen to one another honestly
and openly. Dialogue does not mean that each side tries to win the other
over with an opposing point of view, but pauses to hear the honest thoughts
and feelings of the other side.
respect those who have different views on this issue, and even though I
share my faith perspective here, I do not presume that this must be their
truth as well. I believe that all human nature is flawed, and that God holds
the only “Truth” with a capital “T”. We humans can only approximate the
truth, and no person has a monopoly on it.
Northwest Annual Conference has been deeply divided by this very issue in
the past. People have been hurt, self-righteousness has abounded, and lives
have been damaged. This is not an embodiment of God’s divine Grace, and I
pray that we can respond differently in the future. If we are to truly live
by God’s love, then we need to treat each other with the respect of any
creature made by God’s hand. All of us have the dignity and self-worth of a
child of God.
I am not
asking for a tepid and false peacefulness. We will disagree and not see
eye-to-eye. I am not looking for an all-encompassing harmony in our present
reality, but these great issues that divide us will not go away, and I call
on all of us to enter into a civil dialogue that speaks of mutual respect.
When such social issues threaten to pull us apart as the Body of Christ, I
invite every United Methodist into the art of Holy Conferencing. Our times
call upon us to model the love of Jesus Christ through our love for one
we will disagree, I believe in my very bones that God is at work in the
world, and in our lives. We have been shown a glimpse of God’s spiritual
vision: where the wolf and lamb lie together, where water springs from the
desert, and where weapons of war will be turned into instruments of
I hold that
vision before you on this day, and I also hold all of you in my prayers. As
we continue as the “people of the way” let Christ be our guide and
salvation, and let love rule our hearts and minds.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant Hagiya
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology, where he received his M.A., M.Div., and D.Min. degrees. He completed his course work for a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics at the Graduate Theological Union, and he recently completed a Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership at Pepperdine University.
Bishop Hagiya has served as a full time Professor at the Claremont School of Theology, teaching in the area of Religion and Society and Urban Ministries. He has remained as an Adjunct Professor at Claremont for the last 15 years. Prior to his election to the episcopacy, he served as the Senior Pastor at churches in Berkeley, Gardena, and Los Angeles, California, as well as the Los Angeles District Superintendent and Dean of the Appointed Cabinet of the California-Pacific Annual Conference. His most recent appointment was as the Executive Director of the Center for Leadership Excellence, a joint position between the California-Pacific Annual Conference and the Claremont School of Theology, where he served as the Director of Leadership for the annual conference and a faculty member at the Claremont School of Theology.
Bishop Hagiya has served as a General and Jurisdictional Conference delegate since 1996, and was the head of his annual conference delegation to General Conference in 2000. He most recently has served on the Committee on References for the 2008 General Conference. He is a trained mediator, receiving most of his training through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.
Bishop Hagiya has been an active member of the Nikkei Interfaith Group, a community-based coalition of Christians, Buddhists, and Shinto Ministers. He was also the ecumenical representative of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to the Los Angeles Religious Leaders, consisting of all the ecumenical leaders of the greater Los Angeles region.
Bishop Hagiya is currently serving as the Resident Bishop of the new “Greater Northwest Area” (encompassing the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences). He is the current Chair of the 4 Focus Area’s “Developing Global Leaders for a Global Church,” or the Leadership focus area of the UMC. He will Chair the Ministry Study Commission for the 2012-2016 quadrennia. He also serves on the Council of Bishop Executive Committee, and as board member of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.