Our opening worship for today highlighted a sermon by our COB President, Bishop Ken Carter, who spoke at our last California-Pacific Annual Conference Session. Bishop Carter gave a wonderful theological sermon calling for the unity of the church and submission to the will of God. The full text of Bishop Carter’s sermon is available here, and I deeply recommend the reading of this sermon.
The Special Called Session’s first plenary kicked off today after a day of prayer and fasting yesterday. The day began with the Commission on a Way Forward sharing their report and I am very proud of these wonderful United Methodists who truly care and love their church. Having worked with these folks for over two years and countless hours we have forged a deep sense of trust and confidence in each other. We modeled the “convicted humility” that we wrote about. We sought not to win each other to our own perspective and values but to listen deeply to each other and learn from one another. I wish the whole church could engage in this type of Christian conferencing that the Commission shared together.
I thought we presented each plan with objectivity and passion. From the very start the Commission on a Way Forward tried hard not to impress our own values on each other, and it was in that spirit that I felt we presented the various plans equally and without bias.
One thing that we could never do as a Commission is to translate the spirit and care that this group had for one another to the larger body. We were so diverse and different from each other, yet the openness and compassion in relationship was only possible through our love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I wish that we could replicate that spirit throughout the church and I pray that our California-Pacific Conference can achieve this in small experiences.
The body then underwent a prioritization process with the relevant legislation. This was a non-binding process to determine the priority of which each piece is to be discussed. It was hard to determine what went into delegates minds in this process. A full list of these priorities will be published by our UMC News Service.
Finally, the body elected lay delegates to convene the main legislative body. Because of the narrow focus of our main issue, we convened as one large assembly in one legislative committee. Normally, with thousands of petitions, the General Conference is broken into 12-15 legislative committees, but this was another “first” of our church.
We ended the day starting on the prioritized legislation, and any results will be reported tomorrow.
Keep the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop