I continue to receive requests to share an update concerning the postponed General Conference and Western Jurisdictional Conference. I realize that this is an anxious time for everyone in our church. Not only are we reeling from the COVID-19 threats, but our whole church has been on a massive holding pattern for over a year. It has been a tough time for everyone, and that includes the entire global population!
Over the next few months, I will share what I can about the state of The United Methodist Church, and I realize that I will not have many answers. The truth of the matter is no one knows what will happen next, and this fact should sober all of us.
First, let me address what we know about General Conference. The only one who can decide on holding the General Conference is the Commission on General Conference, a global elected body of laity and clergy tasked with the oversight for the General Conference. Their leadership and staff have been meeting regularly to determine if it is possible to hold our General Conference in 2022. They are exploring every angle to this very question. At this time, they still cannot determine with assurance if this is going to be possible. They are juggling hundreds of considerations. One of the major issues is getting Visas and safe travel for our Central Conference delegates. Since the Central Conferences make up over 40% of the General Conference, it would be impossible and unethical to hold it if they could not participate. As the Delta variant continues to rage worldwide, the ultimate safety of our members continues to be a significant hurdle to physically meet in Minnesota or anywhere else in the world.
I have tremendous respect and confidence in the leadership of the Commission on General Conference. I know that they are working diligently every week to answer whether we will be able to meet or not. We can only wait in patience as they do their work, and as soon as they make a definitive decision, they will let all of us know.
My challenge in writing this briefing is how to tie in this season of thanksgiving with the latest information of our general church. One thanksgiving that I regularly lift to God in my daily devotions and prayers is the faithfulness of all of our churches, laity, and clergy during such a trying time as this. I thank God for all of you who are doing everything you can to keep your churches and communities afloat and viable under the COVID-19 conditions. You are the heart and soul of our entire church, and I am proud to be a part of such a dynamic and faithful community. However, it is to God and God alone to whom we must give our thanksgiving and praise. God is the one who is not letting us down and continues to guide and empower our ministries!
So, during this important thanksgiving season, let us turn to God for hope and vision. It is time for us to take stock in all that we have, not what we lack. God will give us all we need to get through the challenges of this hour and the hours to come.
Let me close with that great inspiration from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians:
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. — Galatians 6:9-10
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop