Upon hearing of the news of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I went into a deep sadness, but even deeper depression that evening. “RBG” as she is affectionally referred to, was not only a renowned Supreme Court Justice, but a towering example of fairness, justice and compassion. To lose someone of this stature in our divided and polarized society made me mourn what will happen next. The political divide will jump on the implications of naming her replacement on the Supreme Court, and even though her life exemplified fairness, her death will be used to continue the polarization and divide we are facing as a nation.
Personally, I believe we must stop and honor her life and not jump to the next pragmatic political opportunity for either side. We have lost a great statesperson, a great legal mind, and a great gift from God.
On our own California-Pacific Conference prophetic front, I want to report that we had an excellent gathering of all Black clergy, churches and laity. Our first meeting was to set the stage for a revitalization of our Black churches and communities and we were expertly led by Deborah Bass, Sandra Jefferson, Pastor Benedicta Ogbonnaya, Rev. Victor Cyrus-Franklin, Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth, and Marissa Wells. We were able to virtually break into small groups where all participants were able to share their own thoughts, hopes and visions. It was an excellent beginning where the themes of action, reflection and optimism were stressed.
Our core planning committee consisting of Deborah Bass, Rev. Victor Cyrus-Franklin, Pastor Adrienne Zackery, Rev. Gary Williams, Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth, Rev. Alma Johnson-Hawkins and myself will continue to work on our next steps, but it will be a joint effort of all of our Black clergy, laity and churches that will work in concert to come up with a strategic plan for revitalization.
With the arrival of our new Executive Director of Connectional Ministries, Erin Hawkins, we will also begin the process of an anti-racism initiative for the whole annual conference. As the former General Secretary of the Committee on Religion and Race for our UMC, Erin brings the experience and skill sets to chart the next course of our anti-racism work. In the next few months we will be planning the beginning steps of this needed work for our whole conference.
Let me also take this time to thank our Interim Director of Connectional Ministries, Rev. Dr. Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, who admirably stepped into the role while Erin wrapped up her work with GCORR. Working part-time, because she is a full-time grandmother, Sharon led our Connectional Ministries staff and provided the oversight and administration to see us through this critical period. Please join me in thanking Sharon for her dedication and leadership during this transition period!
Let us also celebrate the honoring of our own Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Jr. for his being named by the County Board of Supervisors on September 22, 2020 as the “Rev. James Lawson, Jr. Day.” Sept. 22 will mark Jim’s 92nd birthday, and what a fitting tribute to our own “living legend!” Join me in celebrating both Jim’s birthday and this great honor from the public!
For inspiration this week, a little bit of humor on the pandemic is in order:
“When this virus thing is over, I still want some of you to stay away from me.”
“Just wait a second – so what you’re telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?”
“Did a big load of pajamas so I would have enough clean work clothes for this week.”
Until our next briefing,
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop