It is will deep gratitude and thanksgiving that I write this final letter to our beloved California-Pacific Annual Conference. As I move to the retired status as a United Methodist Bishop, I have been reflecting on what the annual conference has meant to me both personally and professionally.
Sojourning back to Cal-Pac in 1985, serving two great churches here, and then joining the Cabinet for eight full years before being elected to the Episcopacy out of this annual conference all deeply humbles me. Our California-Pacific Annual Conference welcomed me, trained me, and gave me opportunity after opportunity to grow and mature in my ministry.
I remember being asked to serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry very shortly after returning and then being awed by being asked to serve as the Candidacy Registrar with no experience. I must have made many mistakes in that role because I had no idea what I was doing! Yet the Board of Ordained Ministry continued to hone my leadership, and one of the biggest honors was being asked to Chair the Board for eight years. I think I served our Board of Ordained Ministry, including as the Cabinet Representative, for over twenty years! Talk about putting up with my limited leadership!
It was our annual conference that elected and sent me to four General and Jurisdictional Conferences, and a highlight of my career was leading the delegation. However, without a doubt, the greatest gift was being an Episcopal Candidate from Cal-Pac twice, and really it was our Jurisdictional delegation that enabled me to be elected in 2008. Our Cal-Pac delegation supported me unconditionally and personally convinced other delegations to support me. Words are so inadequate for how humbling and grateful I am for this love and support. I think of each one of you delegation members that year, and my heart is filled with thankfulness.
Needless to say, I never imagined that I would be able to return as an active Bishop to Cal-Pac, as returning to one’s home conference is rare in Episcopal assignments. Yet, I was given the unconditional gift of serving for six years in our annual conference. It remains one of the greatest honors that I have experienced!
This all adds up to the debt of gratitude I owe the California-Pacific Annual Conference. You have trained, mentored, supported, and cared for me throughout my entire professional career. I can never repay you for all that you have given to me. All that is left is for me to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I also know that I leave you with an exceptional new Episcopal leader, Bishop Dottie Escobedo-Frank, assigned to the annual conference. We are lucky to get Bishop Escobedo-Frank assigned to us, but I’m sure she will come to realize how lucky she is to be coming to such a strong and committed annual conference.
As I retire from the Episcopacy but not the ministry, my heart could not be more full of joy and gratitude.
May you continue to be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop