“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:28, CEB]
Recently members of the committee who crafted together the “Protocol Of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation” announced that the “once-promising Protocol Agreement no longer offers a viable path forward, particularly given the long delays, the changing circumstances within the United Methodist Church, and the formal launch of the Global Methodist Church in May of this year.” This protocol included an abeyance on charges on our LGBTQIA+ clergy. The removal of support of the protocol makes these clergy more vulnerable and at risk of harm.
In addition, the actions of the clergy executive session at the Florida Conference’s annual conference to not approve an entire class of those approved by their Board of Ordained Ministry for commissioning because two members of that class identify as LGBTQIA+ has resulted in further harm, anxiety, and frustration for many of us.
In February of 2019, following the Special Called General Conference, the Western Jurisdiction Bishops made the following statement:
“We intend to provide safe harbor for clergy under our care who may be at risk under the new provisions, prohibitions, and punishments… We do not believe that The United Methodist Church has the authority or the power to impose limits on the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s beloved LGBTQ+ children. We intend to exercise our authority as bishops of The United Methodist Church to encourage and protect the full participation of LGBTQ+ persons as beloved children of God, embraced in God’s reign of grace. We do not intend to withhold or challenge ordination based solely on a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. We are unwilling to punish clergy who celebrate the marriage of two adults of any gender or sexual orientation seeking the blessing of God and the Church for their covenanted life together.”
As I wrote in March this year, “The California-Pacific Annual Conference continues our commitment to inclusion across the wide diversity of our area and peoples, including LGBTQ+ siblings. This commitment runs deep in our conference and is increasingly widespread in our United Methodist connection. The commitment to doing no harm remains a deep value that will be upheld as we fulfill our mission.“
I want to reaffirm my personal commitment to care for and protect all people of our annual conference. If anyone feels at risk, we must do everything to provide the psychological and even physical safety of our LGBTQ+ community. As the Cabinet, staff, and leadership of the annual conference, we pledge to stand behind you.
Nothing has changed for us here. We will continue to love and support all God’s beloved children and the myriad ways they are called to serve. We will continue to work towards an inclusive church that ministers to and with all regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, economic status, gender identity, sexuality, and ability.
May we all be the Hope!
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop