Bishop Hagiya suggests that change is coming to the UMC

Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area has written a pastoral letter to the people of his area thanking them for their work in hosting the Portland General Conference, and reflecting on the actions of that conference.

For many, this was a tough General Conference to experience, but no more difficult than in previous years. As a delegate myself since 1996, we have had more difficult and challenging years than this one. As a positive, the one thing that I think our General Conference delegates are realizing is that we cannot legislate our way out of the adaptive challenges that we face as a church. Something must change in the way we do General Conference. I realize that the traditional forces at General Conference do not want things to change, but a divine wind is blowing, and change will be forced on all of us whether we like it or not.

Hagiya pledged in the letter that the Greater Northwest Area would be committed to working for full inclusion of LGBTQI persons in the future.

I do want you to know that we here in the Greater Northwest will continue to work for full inclusion in our church, even as the general church lags behind on this issue. The recent statement by the Pacific Northwest Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry acknowledging that they do not consider one’s sexuality as an indicator of ministerial effectiveness is truly indicative of our practice in this episcopal area.

Hagiya’s statement is another in a series of conflicting statements from various bishops regarding the Book of Discipline’s proscriptions against the ordination of LGBTQI persons and conducting same-sex weddings in light of the Council of Bishops’ “Way Forward” proposal adopted by the 2016 General Conference. Some bishops are suggesting that since no changes were made and no moratorium on complaints and charges was approved then the existing language of the Discipline must be followed in full while others are saying that the bishops’ proposal allows them to ignore the teaching on human sexuality until the bishops present a final plan at the called General Conference scheduled to happen sometime before the regular 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.

Hagiya acknowledges that the issues around human sexuality become more difficult as the UMC continues to become more global in nature:

If we want to become a global church, we will have to realize that we in the U.S. will have less influence and clout when it comes to church policy. In most of Africa and the Philippines, homosexuality is the ultimate taboo, and this comes directly from our own past missionaries who taught this intolerance. This is not going to change soon overseas. We are going to have to find creative ways to parcel out church polity on a regional basis if we continue to be a global church. This is part of the realization we have to deal with being a global entity, and there are few technical fixes to address this adaptive challenge.

Hagiya was elected to the episcopacy in 2008 and served in the Seattle Area before being assigned to the Greater Northwest Area.

Click here to read the full letter.

UMReporter Staff

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Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

So, Bishop Hagiya reveals that the Council of Bishops had a very clear agenda at GC. They didn’t like the strong voice of those GC delegates who trust in the authority of Scripture, so they “forced change on all of us.” Instead of allowing this conference to again make a strong stand with the Biblical standard for human sexuality, they hijacked the process and silenced the duly elected delegates and all those in their conferences that elected them. This quote is very informative: “Something must change in the way we do General Conference. I realize that the traditional forces at… Read more »

eric pone
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eric pone

I think what many of the Bishops realize is that the church can’t survive if either side of the human sexuality issue “wins”. As some point a middle way will need to be found. I mean Leviticus also has a very clear teaching that you can sell your daughter into slavery. But we don’t practice that anymore. (at least in the US) Its not seen as appropriate. So lets not just pick and choose but lets pray and place scripture in its appropriate context. Remember we are the UMC we use four methods to seek God, Scripture, Reason, Tradition, and… Read more »

Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

Eric, I and others would prefer truth in regard to sexuality and every other aspect of life to come from God’s inspired Scripture, rather than feelings or the whims of culture. I would prefer that God and His truth wins, not anyone else.

Wes Andrews

eric pone
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eric pone

Only one problem with your comments. It means you are not thinking as a Methodist. An evangelical yeah but what is taught at Seminary in your polity class is the Quadrilateral. It seems that the Traditionalists seem to want pretend that John Wesley was a 18th century John Piper which he was clearly not. The historical record begs against it.

jimmie shelby
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jimmie shelby

Perhaps Wes is thinking as a man who has been to the Fountain filled with Blood. Without a doubt, he has been “plugged beneath that flood.” Thanks for your faithfulness, Wes……..

eric pone
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eric pone

What are you saying? The UMC teaches its pastors to interpret through quadrilateral which is why they are on one side of the altar and we are not. I am tired of people who are neither thinking as or frankly are Methodists trying to ruin what has been a solid theological thought process for a born again, nondenominational style theology. If you want that there are plenty of rather large churches avail. But you can’t keep taking over denomination after denomination thinking that moderates and progressives will just at some point surrender and go along with it. WE Won’t AND… Read more »

Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

Eric, Albert Outler got Wesley wrong. The quadrilateral did NOT have equal influence… Scripture was absolutely primary. Really read Wesley, it’s very simple to see. He was and we are the people to be people of one book….

Respectfully,

Wes Andrews

Phil
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I would even go as far to say most people got Outler wrong and he later regretted creating it because the quadrilateral was misused. https://vitalpiety.com/2013/05/13/experience-in-the-so-called-wesleyan-quadrilateral/

John
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John

I was taught church polity in Polity… Albert Outler’s so-called Wesleyan Quadrilateral was properly taught not as part of polity but in Doctrine. What must be remembered is that the quadrilateral is not doctrine but a construct for inquiry. (Our Book of Discipline used to be called Doctrines and Discipline for good reason.) For our doctrinal standards, you need to look to our Articles of Religion, our Confession, and Wesley’s Sermons and Notes. There you will see clearly our primary emphasis on scripture… with tradition, reason, and experience in a supporting role.

Bruce Davis
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Bruce Davis

The Bishops are clearly a house divided themselves. At the risk of feeling sorry for myself, the lack of clarity from the home office makes it no easier to negotiate local church leadership. If the Bishops can’t get their act together, they’d do us all a favor by coming back with a plan for division.

Phil
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Phil

What I find hard to understand is assumption that the US church would side with the progressives in light of what has happened in other denominations in this country. http://www.pcusa.org/news/2013/9/20/whos-joining-exodus/

eric pone
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eric pone

With all the issue happening what makes you think that the progressive churches wouldn’t merge with PCUSA and the UCC to rebuild itself? Its not like the progressives will just give up and stop going to church over this. Where both sides should be concerned are pew sitters like myself who are fed up with both sides and who WILL stop showing up?

Phil
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I have no idea what you are asking. My comment was in regard to the Bishop’s comment on “regional” splitting of the church and his words imply the US church would embrace a change to the BOD that other, non-US regions would reject. Changing the BOD would cause a mass exodus by conservatives and to think otherwise is extremely naive and downright astonishing coming from a bishop. Conservatives won’t protest or tie themselves up and flop on the floor. I suspect they will put their efforts in building a new true Wesleyan church. It is funny that conservatives are the… Read more »

Mike Tyler
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Mike Tyler

We must remember that the proclaimed desire of the LGBTQ, which is to be included and given leadership positions, is really a smokescreen. The ultimate goal is the total destruction of all church denominations. So far it is working well. Just check out the already schism ed denominations. I predict that in 20 – 25 years the only flourishing churches will be those that are independent and standing strong on God’s WORD.

Sandy Wylie
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Sandy Wylie

I think Bishop Hagiya is on target. The best predictor of what is most likely to happen is the course that has been taken by other mainline churches: Presbyterians, Lutherans, UCC, Episcopal. The progressive cause has won. This seems inevitable since it’s in accordance with where history is taking us. In every case there have been division and loss as the traditionalists have withdrawn. Sad outcome, but I don’t see any other road ahead.

eric pone
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eric pone

I think you will probably see the UMC split and will be concentrated in the South and Rural plains.(with a few rural congregations scattered throughout the rest of the country) The balance will more than likely merge with other progressive denominations to rebuild itself and Southern Methodists will merge with the Global church. Its the beginning of the end. Its stupid and unneeded but the extremists on both ends will be happy in the end and that is all they really want. Its not about Christ but about winning a political battle.

jimmie shelby
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jimmie shelby

Seems to this writer that the liberal/progressives are the ones who have driven the politics. It is those folks who see to it that the umc moves in lock-step with the political trend(s) of this country. Wasn’t it “church” politics that caused the Savior to be nailed to the tree because He would not capitulate the Father’s Message? Did they not use secular political ideals in order to force Jesus to the Cross. But, Father/Son/Holy Spirit had all that in place before the Foundation of the World so that humanity would have a path back to the Father……………………

jimmie shelby
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jimmie shelby

The bishops have a large case of “do as I say–not as I do!!” Wonder how John Wesley would have handled this? Then there is this: WWJD?

Kevin
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Kevin

Or to put it more succinctly “We will do as we wish here and the rest of the world will eventually catch up.”

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