By now you have probably seen or heard of our Council of Bishop’s press release on our discernment and decisions concerning the recommendations coming from the Commission on the Way Forward.
Our Council of Bishops has done hard, deep and visionary work together. It was very similar to our Commission on the Way Forward work done in the past 15 months. Produced by our Commission on the Way Forward, I wanted to share our Vision statement:
The Commission will design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible. This unity will not be grounded in our conceptions of human sexuality, but in our affirmation of the Triune God who calls us to be a grace-filled and holy people in the Wesleyan tradition.
I think this vision statement captures exactly what must be the main priorities: Our UMC mission, contextual space, and unity. Equally important is the fact that our unity must not be contingent on the one issue of human sexuality, but only on our Triune God whom we give our deepest loyalty.
These are the same priorities that I hold for our California-Pacific Annual Conference. It must be about our mission in Jesus Christ, and our unity as an annual conference is to be faithful to our mission, and our mission alone. We cannot allow any one social issue to derail us from our mission to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.”
We will dialogue deeply on our specific options once the final document is translated and distributed in public. We will hold sessions at our upcoming annual conference in Redlands, and also have planned regional events throughout the Area after annual conference. Please plan to take part in at least one of these sessions to listen deeply and voice any of your concerns.
Let me close with a word of hope. I believe God is in our midst through all of our trials and challenges at this time. I believe that the Holy Spirit is blowing a new wind of life and love to our United Methodist Church, and we will endure whatever changes that our church votes to affirm. I believe that our United Methodist Church center will hold together, and even though some will leave, the vast majority of our church will stay unified, and we will fulfill the mission that God has placed before us.
May it be so in the very name of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church