Greetings in the Joy of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Just as we find ourselves in unprecedented times in our daily lives, so too our United Methodist Church finds itself in a similar circumstance. The acceleration of change that all of us face is both unsettling, but also provides us the opportunity to reset our direction and vision in an entirely new way.
The global pandemics have put us all in a giant holding pattern, especially when it comes to our church polity. With the postponement of General and Jurisdictional Conferences, we have been unable to do the work of the church in a predictable manner. After more than 17 years in active episcopal leadership, my colleague and friend, Bishop Robert Hoshibata has desired and decided on his retirement this coming October 2021.
Unfortunately, we cannot replace him through our election process until our next regular session of Jurisdictional Conference – projected to meet in 2022. The Western Jurisdiction College and Episcopacy Committee has determined that I give interim oversight over the Desert Southwest Annual Conference until we can elect new bishops. This does not mean that our two annual conferences will be merging. Both conferences will retain their autonomy and independence. There are several pastors in our connection serving multiple congregations and there are bishops being asked to oversee larger areas and multiple annual conferences.
Here in our California-Pacific Annual Conference, in anticipation of an episcopal transition in 2020, we have already established an Executive Team that will orient and work with a new Bishop. It will consist of our Lay Leader, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries, Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Executive Director of Human Resources, Director of Innovation and Communications, Dean of the Cabinet and Assistant to the Bishop. The Desert Southwest Annual Conference has also established a Transition Team to work on these same issues. We are preparing for our futures. California-Pacific’s capable team will now work with me in oversight of the annual conference as I take on this expansion of another annual conference.
I have gone through a similar situation in 2012, when the Western Jurisdiction had to downsize from 6 bishops to 5, and I was given oversight of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference in addition to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Annual Conferences. I know somewhat of what it means to take on a second annual conference and a much larger territory. However, I also know the workload that it involves, and I will need your prayers and understanding in this new assignment. This will mean a greater collaboration and more responsibility of our present conference leadership, but it is a model that may be necessary for our long-term future.
Please keep our two annual conferences, respective leadership, and myself in your prayers. Hopefully, this will be of a very short duration, but we will only succeed if God grants us the strength, insight and wisdom to enable this to happen. Feel free to ask any questions to my office or your own District Superintendent, who is committed to make this work.
Thank you always for your prayers and support!
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop