CALL TO PRAYER ON THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING

 BishopGrantHagiya  Bishop Grant Hagiya

California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  — 1 Corinthians 13:1 (New International Version)

I know that God is in agony over the nearly 60 lives lost and those hundreds of people fighting for their lives because of the shooting that occurred this past weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The many victims of what is now considered the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in recent history include the colleagues, neighbors, and loved ones of many of us here in the California-Pacific Conference region.

We have been left with trying to make sense of a totally senseless act of violence. Not only will we continue to ask the questions of how and why, what and where, for ourselves, we will have to guide our children and young people through such tough questions as well.

As a United Methodist follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that our words alone will not be enough in bringing about genuine healing in times such as these. What we must rely upon is the transformative love of God to be the true balm that will ultimately bring about peace in ourselves and in our society.

We, the California-Pacific Conference, can love transformatively as we embrace in prayer all those directly affected by the violence, as we stay connected with Bishop Robert Hoshibata and our sister conference, the Desert Southwest Conference, which includes Las Vegas, Nevada, as we open our church sanctuaries for spiritual centering and comfort, and as we support and participate in the work of our Cal-Pac Peace with Justice and the General Board of Church and Society to end gun violence.

The California-Pacific Conference is, unfortunately, no stranger to such incidents of mass violence.  But, let us step forward in courage and faith once again so that all may experience God’s life-giving and transformative love.

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya

Los Angeles Episcopal Area

The United Methodist Church

 

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A CALL TO ACTION TO THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCHES IN THE U.S.

From the United Methodist Immigration Task Force

September 4, 2017

We have learned that President Trump is considering rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which presently provides undocumented immigrant young people employment authorization.*  Under DACA young people are able to obtain social security cards, work and go to school.

Since DACA’s inception in June 2012, almost 800,000 young people have received its benefits.  Many other young people who qualified for DACA did not come forth for a number of reasons.  Some did not trust that they would be safe if they came forward to request DACA, fearing deportation.  Others did not have the funds to pay for the fees or the legal help they needed to apply.  Some simply did not have the support systems to help them take the steps to apply for DACA.

DACA recipients have been able to work and support themselves and their families.  Economic studies have clearly shown that they have significantly contributed to the economy of the country. They have been able to go to school and prepare for their future, futures that have the potential of strengthening the well-being of the many communities where they live.   As DACA young people will share, they received hope and the opportunity to be useful and productive.

In the last few months, however, these same young people have gone from hope to hopelessness.   The uncertainty they have faced over the majority of their lives has caused them profound physical and emotional trauma.  We are consistently moved by the fact that so many of these young people do not lose their confidence in God and continue to find strength in their faith.

In walking with undocumented young people from all over the world and their families, we have learned that the US has immigration policies that are broken and antiquated affecting not only immigrants, but the needs of the country’s economy.  Refugee and asylum policies fail to take into consideration that the world has changed becoming even more violent, and causing greater migration.   The inability of the US Congress to address these realities as they affect the country and its lack of global leadership in these matters that affect the US and the world, causes us much concern.

While we continue to encourage President Trump and the US Congress to do the right thing, we know that our strong voices demanding justice for immigrant young people and their families are needed.   As the Church, we must stand with and for immigrant families in this hour, and especially with and for undocumented young people, sons and daughters of our Creator God, our brothers and sisters.

DACA young people and other undocumented young people need the support of the Church.  We ask that all United Methodist churches take action to stand with them.  Here are some ways we would recommend:

  • Engage in conversations with immigrants in your community as you go about your day.  Offer them a listening ear, a word of comfort and pray with them;
  • Create safe space in your church for immigrant young people and their families to gather and share what they are experiencing.  Seek to learn from them about their circumstances.  Offer them hospitality through food and other expressions of care;
  • Connect with campus ministries in your community and partner with them to reach out to DACA students and other immigrant young people with love and support;
  • Reach out to your congressional leaders and let them know that as people of Christian faith we support DACA and humane immigration policies;
  • Gather church members to study what the Bible teaches us about how the church is to respond to the immigrant.  Our United Methodist Social Principles and Book of Resolutions offer important resources, as do the web pages of our General Boards of Church and Society, Global Ministries, and Discipleship Ministries, United Methodist Women and the General Commission on Religion and Race;
  • Pray, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you and your local church in responding to the needs of immigrant young people and their families.

We believe that the next 6 months will be critical for the well-being of immigrant young people and their families.  We enter a season when we are called to be the Church in clear, compassionate, courageous and prophetic ways.  May God be our help.

The United Methodist Immigration Task Force,

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling

Bishop Julius Trimble

Bishop Elías Galván

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

Jeania Ree Moore, General Board of Church and Society

Rebecca Cole, General Board of Church and Society

Thomas Kemper, General Board of Global Ministries

Rob Rutland Brown, Justice for Our Neighbors

Gustavo Vasquez, United Methodist Communications

Erin Hawkins, General Commission on Religion and Race

Giovanni Arroyo, General Commission on Religion and Race

Marisa Villarreal, United Methodist Women

Hortense Tyrell, United Methodist Women

Francisco Cañas, National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries

Jacob Dharmaraj, National Federation of Asian America United Methodists

Monalisa Tui’tahi, Pacific Islander National Caucus of The United Methodist Church

Youngsook Kang, Western Jurisdiction Immigration Task Force

Jeanne Roe Smith, Wesley Foundation serving UCLA

 

* Since this Call to Action was originally published, the President has decided to end DACA in six months, giving Congress a chance to act to save the program. However, no new DACA applications will be accepted during this time. 

Cal-Pac’s Week of Prayer on the Way Forward Aug 27-Sept 1 2017

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Our California-Pacifiic Conference Resident Bishop Grant J. Hagiya calls us to pray for specific areas of ministry each day…

Dear friend,

As I have been working on the Commission on the Way Forward, it has become increasing clear to me that all of our projections and planning, while important, cannot cover all the complexities of our church life. What I mean by this is that we cannot see everything and represent every position in the breadth of our church. Only God sees from that complete and whole perspective, and as much as we try to be in deep communion with God on the Commission, as human servants we come up short.

The only way we are going to positively move forward on this impasse over human sexuality is to turn to God, fall on our knees in humble confession, and ask for God’s direction and wisdom. This is the very reason our prayers are so important for the Commission’s work. I am convinced that as a member of the Commission, the most important thing for me to do is to pray. It is more important than my study, thinking, and strategizing for the Commission’s work. I need to simply pray!

I am asking you to join me in the most important thing that we can do for our church. It is now time for all of us to turn to God, and not rely on ourselves to come up with a way forward. God has a way for us, and if we are faithful in prayer, we may find it.

Please join me in prayer for our United Methodist Church:

  • August 27 – The whole United Methodist Church
  • 28 – The Commission on the Way Forward
  • 29 – The Council of Bishops
  • 30 – The 2019 General Conference Special Called Session
  • 31 – The Lay People of The UMC
  • September 1 – The Clergy of The UMC
  • 2 – The Way Forward Conversation in Cal-Pac

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
California-Pacific Conference

RESOURCES FOR PRAYER FOR THE WAY FORWARD

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the Commission on the Way Forward? – The 32-member commission is accountable to the Council of Bishops, which named the members following a mandate from the 2016 General Conference and is charged by the General Conference with developing proposals for the bishops to find a way forward and for unity in the UMC on issues related to human sexuality.  The Commission includes two leaders of the Wesleyan Covenant Association as well as at least three openly gay members. All told, the commission includes eight bishops, 11 laity, 11 elders and two deacons from nine countries.  California-Pacific Conference Resident Bishop Grant J. Hagiya is a member of this Commission.
  • What led to its creation? – At the 2016 General Conference (Portland, OR), a vote of 428 to 405 was taken to suspend debate and defer decisions on human sexuality, following the recommendation of the Council of Bishops, to a Commission on the Way Forward which would develop specific proposals to the Council of Bishops.
  • What has the Commission accomplished so far? – The Commission issued a status report in July 2017 that has summarized their method of working and their conclusions thus far.  The report includes their hopes for a “looser” church structure, a “tighter” essential theology and doctrine, and a “thinner” Book of Discipline.
  • What is the Called Special Session in 2019? – A report by the Council of Bishops based on the proposals of the Commission on the Way Forward will be given and voted upon by a specially called session of General Conference to be held from February 23 thru 26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Commission on General Conference, which plans the lawmaking assemblies, has set the delegate number at 864 — about 58 percent from the United States and 30 percent from Africa. The remaining delegates are from the Philippines, Europe and Eurasia as well as 10 from “concordat” churches with which The United Methodist Church has formal relationships.

Prayer for the Work of the Commission

The Council also named a parallel prayer initiative named “Praying our Way Forward.”  This initiative assigns a week of prayer for every Conference in The United Methodist Church.  The dates assigned to the California-Pacific Conference for prayer for the work of the Commission are August 27 thru September 2, 2017.