Cleric's Column - Big United Methodist News
By: Pastor Eric Smith
Happily back from Fiji! It was a great trip. Someone asked me if my life had been transformed from the experience. My first thought was, 'no, I have participated in mission trips before.'
My next thought was, 'but this was different, and yes I have.'
My heart was stretched… opened wider. The Fijian folks loved us and we loved them right back. It was grace upon grace. They went to great effort to receive us, to welcome us, and to engage together during the time we were there. We were blown away by their love. And we gave as good as we got. I am grateful to have been a part of it.
While we were gone the Western Jurisdiction Conference met in Scottsdale. The Jurisdictional Conference meets every other year and represents eight annual conferences; a geographic area west of Colorado. The biggest responsibility of this meeting is that they elect and assign bishops. In this episcopal election the Western Jurisdiction chose to lead the denomination by electing the first openly gay bishop in Methodist history. The Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto , lead pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, was elected bishop. Bishop Oliveto is a married, gay woman.
Bishop Melvin Talbert, retired beloved bishop from our area, said he wasn’t sure he would ever live to see the day when the church would elect an openly gay bishop.
This means our church — at least part of our church — has finally come to the realization that there is no longer any place for exclusion. We are all children of God, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. We would be blessed to invite all God’s people to their rightful place at the table.
I am supportive and proud of this bold move by our Western Jurisdiction delegates. This continues to be a difficult issue for Methodism, although our counterparts in the Presbyterian and Episcopal denominations moved forward before we did. I invite you to join me in prayer for our beloved United Methodist Church as we move into the future together.
Lastly, the Western Jurisdiction assigns bishops to the areas they serve. Bishops are itinerant just like pastors of local churches. We learned that Bishop Minerva Carcaño has a new assignment to the California-Nevada Conference. I am grateful to have served under her episcopal leadership and grateful for the leadership she brought to our conference. Bishop Carcaño begins her new episcopal relationship on September 1.
We have a new bishop. Bishop Grant Hagiya is originally from our conference.
Bishop Hagiya is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology, where he received his M.A., M.Div., and D.Min. degrees. He completed course work for a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics at the Graduate Theological Union. Prior to his election to the episcopacy, he served as the Sr. Pastor at churches in Berkeley, Gardena, and Los Angeles, California as well as the Los Angeles District Superintendent and Dean of the Appointed Cabinet of the California Pacific Annual Conference.
We welcome Bishop Grant Hagiya as our new bishop!