Thoughts and Comments


The following was originally posted on the Bishop's Blog of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church on October 22, 2012, by Grant J. Hagiya, the Resident Bishop of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, and is used with his permission.

On Religious Freedom and Referendum 74

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As your Bishop, I am called to serve and lead churches with faithful people who too often stake out their respective corners in the big tent we call United Methodism. While my personal beliefs may align with the majority who strongly affirmed Washington State’s Marriage Equality bill in Pasco this past June, I also experience deeply my call to serve those who stand in faithful opposition to the voice of that majority.

Washington state’s Marriage Equality bill has my support because it does not mandate anyone to do anything they do not want to do, and this is in harmony with my own stance on religious freedom. I believe that it is also consistent with our United Methodist heritage and our shared practice of honoring the deeply held beliefs of others, even when we do not fully agree with them.

As your Bishop I am committed to defending and supporting the rights of all people, even when their “political persuasion” might be different from the majority, or even my own. To those who are currently disappointed, I hope you know that I hear you even as we must disagree in this area.

It is my belief that the future of The United Methodist Church, if it is to have one, is not to be found in dogmatic conformity to one possible expression and understanding of faithfulness. Instead, it will be discovered as we open our hearts to the pain present in world around us, our minds to revealed truth and the Spirit’s continued work through the church, and our doors to all of God’s beloved children.

I shall continue to pray for all sides of this challenging issue. I ask you to do the same, and to keep me in your prayers as we each seek God’s Spirit and a fullness of truth that is always beyond our understanding. Let me leave you with a few refreshed words of Wesley’s as a blessing and a prayer.

In the name, then, and in the strength of God, let us resolve not to hurt one another; to do nothing unkind or unfriendly to each other…

Let us, with God being our helper, speak nothing harsh or unkind of each other…

Let us endeavor to harbor no unkind thought, nor to allow anger or resentment to remain, which is contrary to tender affection…

Finally, let us work to help each other on in whatever we are agreed leads to the creation of the just society Jesus preached of. As much as possible, let’s rejoice when we have common cause to do God’s work together…

Above all, let us each take personal responsibility (since each must give an account of themselves to God) so that we do not fall short of the religion of love, each accountable to the Gospel they received.

I am,

Your affectionate servant, for Christ’s sake,

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.