We are Christ-centered, understanding the Son of God to have been a gentle healer, an incisive teacher, a loving friend, and a radical prophet. Jesus is intent on showing us that God desires us to care for one another in a world in which everyone has enough to eat, a safe place to live, and opportunities to grow our unique, God-given gifts. We seek the holy boldness of Jesus Christ who went to his death on the cross and rose again so that we are sustained by a deep assurance that Good will ultimately triumph over Evil in all of its forms.
About the Bible:
We believe that the Bible reveals God, and it is our starting point for every sermon and every action. We delight in many ways in which the Holy Word is revealed, for the Bible contains not only books of law, but many, many stories of grace and second chances. It expresses truth through poetry and songs, prayers and wise sayings, the stories of kings who succeeded and kings who failed. The prophets call out through the centuries warning us to pay attention to what happens in our world, particularly to the least and the last. There are stories of men and women a lot like you and me, who sometimes stumble and sometimes leap in the search for God.
The Bible reveals God, but not all of God, for how can the awesomeness of God be contained in a single book? God continues to reveal Godself, and we rejoice in every opportunity to know God better through our lived experiences of grace and love.
About the Holy Spirit:
We are convinced and convicted by the ever-hovering Holy Spirit who whizzes unexpectedly through our lives, lighting us up for work that we would have thought beyond us had we not been called by God to do it.
About the church in the world:
Because we understand Christ's bold message to be one of radical inclusion and earth-transforming love, we believe that the faith community must engage the world in which we live. In concert with many other faith-based organizations locally and around the world, we act for positive solutions to conflict; generous, constructive solutions to poverty; and thoughtful measures to save the water, land, and air that God created.
The Bishops's message and the Western Jurisdiction's statement about the UMC vote:
I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ!
By now you have probably all heard that the General Conference Special Called Session is now over, and the Traditional Plan prevailed (article here if you want to read more, the vote was 53% - 438 votes to 47% - 384 votes). Although it does have repressive ramifications to our LGBTQI community, the Judicial Council has ruled much of it unconstitutional. At the same time, this decision is also symbolic in its implications because it signals a turn of the United Methodist Church to a more judgmental and political entity that is against inclusion and for exclusion.
With this conservative turn, I have been deeply conflicted. The question is, “can I stay in a repressive and oppressive church with integrity?” After a sleepless night, I came to a new resolve. I believe I must stay in the UMC and lead our people within the geographical context we find ourselves in the West. We have been living the One Church Plan for decades, and I don’t see why we should change that about us. We live and let live and it is totally consistent with the theology of John Wesley.
We cannot turn back at this point. We have come too far to make this conservative stance. In fact, I don’t think that it is possible for us. I believe that even our more traditional churches have a deep tolerance based on our geography. I believe they know that we accept their theology and hopefully, we treat them the same as everyone else: with respect and dignity.
Now that the General Conference Special Called Session is over, it is time that we focus on what God is calling us to: Our mission and ministry in the very name of Jesus Christ! Nothing is more important than this. Nothing must distract us from this central purpose. Nothing must stand in the way of our ministries of compassion and care!
What I am calling us to do is to learn what God is trying to teach us through this Special Called Session and get to the business of being the church. We need to focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ. We need to engage our local neighborhoods and surrounding communities. We need to feed the hungry, house the immigrant, heal the sick, and preach the Good News.
It is important for us to confess our sins and shortcomings: Too many have been hurt and harmed in our theological wars. Too many have been hurt and harmed by being objectified by the church. Too many have left the church because they have not been welcomed or cared for. If there has been anything I have done personally that has offended or harmed, intentionally or unintentionally, I ask for your forgiveness. I pray that we will all seek such confession and forgiveness.
Most of all, we must turn to each other for healing and care. It is time to put our arms around each other and heal from harming each other. It is time for us to have hearts of peace and not hearts of war. It is time for us to support each other and care for each other.
Be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya