Bishop Grant J. Hagiya preaching at the Service of Commissioning and Ordination during the 2012 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session in Pasco, WA. Photo by Amy Pazan, Pacific Northwest Communications Team.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As your Bishop, I am called to serve and lead churches with faithful people who too often stake out their respective corners in the big tent we call United Methodism. While my personal beliefs may align with the majority who strongly affirmed Washington State’s Marriage Equality bill in Pasco this past June, I also experience deeply my call to serve those who stand in faithful opposition to the voice of that majority.
Washington state’s Marriage Equality bill has my support because it does not mandate anyone to do anything they do not want to do, and this is in harmony with my own stance on religious freedom. I believe that it is also consistent with our United Methodist heritage and our shared practice of honoring the deeply held beliefs of others, even when we do not fully agree with them.
As your Bishop I am committed to defending and supporting the rights of all people, even when their “political persuasion” might be different from the majority, or even my own. To those who are currently disappointed, I hope you know that I hear you even as we must disagree in this area.
It is my belief that the future of The United Methodist Church, if it is to have one, is not to be found in dogmatic conformity to one possible expression and understanding of faithfulness. Instead, it will be discovered as we open our hearts to the pain present in world around us, our minds to revealed truth and the Spirit’s continued work through the church, and our doors to all of God’s beloved children.
I shall continue to pray for all sides of this challenging issue. I ask you to do the same, and to keep me in your prayers as we each seek God’s Spirit and a fullness of truth that is always beyond our understanding. Let me leave you with a few refreshed words of Wesley’s as a blessing and a prayer.
In the name, then, and in the strength of God, let us resolve not to hurt one another; to do nothing unkind or unfriendly to each other…
Let us, with God being our helper, speak nothing harsh or unkind of each other…
Let us endeavor to harbor no unkind thought, nor to allow anger or resentment to remain, which is contrary to tender affection…
Finally, let us work to help each other on in whatever we are agreed leads to the creation of the just society Jesus preached of. As much as possible, let’s rejoice when we have common cause to do God’s work together…
Above all, let us each take personal responsibility (since each must give an account of themselves to God) so that we do not fall short of the religion of love, each accountable to the Gospel they received.
Your affectionate servant, for Christ’s sake,