Bishop Grant Hagiya is the Resident Bishop of the Los Angeles Episcopal of The United Methodist Church

CLICK HERE for more information about Bishop Hagiya and his leadership in the Church globally and locally.

From time to time, we will publish the Bishop’s messages to the California-Annual Conference on this site. Stay tuned!

August 17, 2020

After my last briefing, I received a number of really helpful suggestions and reflections, and I encourage you to continue to send these in. My hope is that we will be flooded with new experiments and innovations, and some of these may turn out to be “game-changers” in creating a new paradigm for our church. As I mentioned previously, during the COVID-19 shutdown, this is our greatest opportunity to experiment and try new things. Everyone has permission to fail, and there will be quite a few failures due to the nature of our experimentation.

As we remember during the restart of Major League Baseball, a top hitter will only be successful 3 out of 10 times at the plate. This means that the best hitters in baseball will make an out 7 of 10 times! If we are successful in a new ministry endeavor with that same success rate, I will take it every time! But we have to start experimenting. How many experiments has your church started since the pandemic? I would like to challenge every church to try a minimum of 10 during this shut-down period.

We also have to learn from each mistake. The U.S. Army does an excellent job when it comes to this learning. They perform an “After-Action-Review” (AAR) after every exercise, mission or performance. It is a rigorous process where they document what went right or wrong and what they need to do differently the next time. They have built a learning culture that continues to get better after every new experiment.

With this in mind, we are creating an online platform where we would like to post every one of your experiments and learnings, both successes and failures. We need everyone to contribute to this learning by posting what you have tried and what you have learned from it. Once again, this means both our successes and failures. We will start with the ones that I have received, but we need many more. Every church needs to start experimenting, and with our sheer numbers, we will find some that will make a huge difference!

Please send your experiments and learnings to James Kang at We will get this online platform up and running, and I look forward to your submissions!


Our Connectional Ministry staff is putting the final touches on a complete worship service that you can play for your church by the end of August. We know how hard you all have been working on putting your worship services online, and we are hoping that this will give you a helpful break where you can get some much-needed rest and rejuvenation for one Sunday. Please look for this download from our media team soon.


Stemming from the legislation that was passed at our 2020 Annual Conference Sessions, a team of our key Black leaders has come together to develop initial plans to revitalize our historic Black churches and communities. We will be holding our first organizing meeting of Black clergy and key lay leaders on Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. I am really excited about the plans for this meeting, and believe that this will launch us into a significant future.


For inspiration this week: Dr. Arthur Kleinman who teaches at Harvard, wrote a wonderful article on the care of his late wife during the last year of her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. They also faced the isolation from sheltering in place due to COVID-19. He advocates the importance of daily rituals – small but meaningful moments during each day that bring joy and happiness. The last paragraph of his article:

We can all learn how to endure with purpose and make this a period of emotional and moral transformation. A plague, as Albert Camus knew, is the moment to ask what life is for. The response to Covid-19 suggests one answer: care for yourself and others. So take a breath and take the time to change the daily rituals that make up life. Throw yourself into them as if your life were at stake, which it is. (Printed in the Wall Street Journal: “How Rituals and Focus Can Turn Isolation Into a Time for Growth” by Dr. Arthur Kleinman)

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


July 27, 2020

For the summer months I will try to do a briefing every other week, as I am hoping many of you will take some time for vacation and renewal. These past months have been filled with adapting to new worship formats and trying out new ways to reach and care for your congregations, and undoubtedly, “crisis fatigue” has settled in. On paper it appears we have more time without in-person worships, meetings and visitations, but in actuality we are spending more time adapting and learning new ways of doing ministry. All of you need some time to recharge, renew and refresh, as we may be facing a Fall without in-person gatherings. Please take the time to rest and relax as we finish the summer!

I am teaching United Methodist Polity this summer, and as I go through the material, I can’t help but to filter our Book of Discipline and secondary resources on polity through the lens of COVID-19. There is nothing in our historical polity that would prepare us for this pandemic, and yet the historical resources are inspiring in an aspiration sense of what the church can be.

For example, the local church is a relatively new phenomenon. Methodists were at our height in the early days of our nation when Circuit Riders were assigned to geographic areas and the denomination spread through field preaching, Class and Band meetings, and Quarterly Conferences. It was only around 1920 that the local church emerged and, with clergy becoming more educated and having families, centered into localized areas. In the next 25 years the local church became the established norm, and the Circuits disappeared.

Prior to the global pandemic, local church attendance had been dropping for decades, and some new form of ministry had to emerge if we had any hope for the future. As devastating as the Coronavirus is, it has forced us to move out of the local church paradigm and seek alternative ways to do church. Because of this new way of thinking, we should not go back to the way it was. I know we don’t know of any other reality, and we must find ways to preserve the relationship building and disciple-sharing at the local level, but a new paradigm must emerge out of this crisis.

This is the “Kairos Moment” for us to experiment, innovate and create the new paradigm that will take the church into the future. What new shape it will take, no one yet knows, but this is our time to create the church of the future. We need to take all that we cherish at the local church level (relationships, disciple-making, preaching and worship, community building, fellowship, etc.) and to vision a new way this will take place outside of the four walls of our buildings. If every one of us works at this new vision and experiment with new ways to bring it about, something wonderful will break forth.

All of us need to work together, share what we are learning, and plan something dynamic as we work our way out of the pandemic. Now is the time for us to do something bold and exciting. I want each of you to share your thoughts, publicize your plans and report on both successes and failures. We will find a way to dedicate a communication channel for this purpose, but for now, please send me your reflections at!

For inspiration this week, Joshua 1:9 says:

This is my command: Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.

 Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


July, 14, 2020

By now you have probably heard that Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered that all in-person worship services cannot meet in almost all counties in California. Although Hawaii is not included in this edit, with the recent spikes in the number of confirmed cases and also deaths from COVID-19, we strongly urge that our Hawaii churches close temporarily in order to keep our congregations safe and keep Hawaii from experiencing the resurgence all over the nation.

This means that all applications for re-opening must be put on hold, and churches that have already reopened must close for now. The one exception is for outside worship with social distancing and face masks. All of the protocols must also be met in order to hold worship outdoors.

Churches who livestream or tape their worship can continue if the gathering is 10 or less and observe all the safety protocols. Small groups can also meet, but it might be prudent to meet by Zoom or internet during this huge increase in COVID-19 cases. As our own medical experts caution us, the virus is now spreading through all forms of social contact and the results should scare all of us. There is evidence that the virus can be airborne, which means we can contract it through casual contact with almost anyone. One can be asymptomatic and appear perfectly healthy but still be able to infect anyone they come into close contact with.

The current statistics should scare us all: It is estimated that 9 family members are affected by 1 COVID-19 death. Since to date we have lost 137,871 lives in the U.S. This means that 1.22 million Americans are dealing with the loss of someone to COVID-19.

The safety of all of us is the number one priority right now, and we must do all we can to protect each other.
Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


July 13, 2020

Everything is moving so fast when it comes to the Coronavirus and its destructive path. Our California-Pacific Annual Conference is trying to keep up with the latest medical and social suggestions, and sometimes mistakes are being made. Recently, we put out a suggested waiver for churches to use, but without many concrete suggestions attached to it. It has led to some confusion and apprehension. Catching up with this needed information, and our dedicated and expert Chancellor, Lori Meaders, has provided a very helpful Question and Answer document that we hope will make things clearer. The waiver and Q&A has been sent out widely and you can access both on our Cal-Pac website.

What we want to emphasize is that the waiver form is not mandatory for every local church. Each local church clergy and lay leaders must determine for themselves if it is appropriate for use. We strongly recommend that all outside groups and preschools sign the waiver to protect against future liability. However, using it for your own congregation is up to each local church. We have heard from some of you that it has the potential for setting up a “them vs. us” mentality, and a situation of mistrust between church leadership and long-standing members. We understand this perception, and this is the reason we want each church to make its own determination as to usage with the congregation itself. We hope that this would honor the integrity and self-determination of each local church. If there are any questions, please turn to your District Superintendent for advice and counsel.

Again, we apologize for the confusion, and we are blessed to be a part of a Christian community where grace and forgiveness rules over accusations and anger.
On another note, which is more personal: It is now official that I will be serving at least one more year as your resident Bishop. Vetted by the Council and College of Bishops, and the Western Jurisdiction and Cal-Pac Episcopacy Committees, these bodies have approved my continuation during these challenging times. I am not that close to mandatory retirement and I personally feel it would be unfair to bring in a new Bishop given our crisis situation. In all humbleness, there are certainly more gifted people who can lead our annual conference, but given our state of crisis and challenge, it usually takes a new Bishop at least a year or two to understand the annual conference culture and structure. If you add on the complexity of our challenging times, it magnifies the pressure of leadership itself. So, for good or ill, you will have to put up with me for another year or so. I ask God for your understanding and acceptance.
For inspiration this week, here are some great quotes:

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese Proverb

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” — Charles Schulz, Illustrator

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


June 29, 2020

As predicted by our health experts, COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike after normalizing with social distancing. Thinking only of re-election, many of our politicians rushed to reopen too soon, and we are seeing the dire consequences playing out before our eyes. It is the value of blatant consumerism and economic greed over human lives. When choosing between an economic downturn or public safety, we have witnessed that there is no contest in our secular political leadership. Even waiting one more month could have made a big difference in lives lost. When I think of the friends that I have lost to COVID-19, no economic price can be put on their lives.

Blaming politicians is an easy target, and we would be well advised to look inward to our own souls as the American public. I have heard too often: “I’m going stir-crazy…I can’t stay home for another week…I can’t wait any longer for things to open up.” These are all trivial excuses, and I put much more stock into those who have to get back to work in order to feed their families, or save their small businesses.

Our American society is so impatient, and the selfish urge to shop at a mall, eat in a restaurant, or drink at a bar, overcomes our common sense. We become the alcoholic who goes on a drinking binge without thinking of the consequences. The individualism of our Western society is also a factor here. “No one can tell me to wear a mask, social distance, or not see my friends!” It is one thing to put oneself at risk, but there are very few individuals without parents, family, and friends who will be infected if I am infected. The arguments for the greater good of all are being drowned out by the demand for individual freedoms.

We as the United Methodist Church must stand for a higher value. We must put the care of others before our selfish desires. We must value human life over the economic bottom line. We must think safety first, convenience later. God demands from us a greater faith to put compassion and care before selfish desire and greed.

This is a time for us to take stock of who we are as the people of God. It is a season for us to double our time in prayer, spiritual practices and discernment. John Wesley has taught us that the quest of salvation means our love of God and neighbor increases, and our preoccupation with self diminishes. To be faithful right now means that we care more about others than ourselves, and we do everything to protect the other.


I want to thank all of those who were behind the scenes of our virtual annual conference sessions last week. We had minor glitches, but overall, the technology ran fairly smoothly, and we were able to complete all of our essential business. There were even things that worked better than physically meeting in Redlands! So much so, that we may be incorporating what we have learned if we are allowed to return to a physical annual conference in the future. There are so many hidden volunteers who made it possible for us to pull this off. You know who you are, and I know you do it for the love of the church, not for individual recognition. However, let me share the biggest THANK YOU for all that you did for us!


Our inspiration for the week comes from the Hebrew Bible:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. God will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
The English Standard Version

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


June 8, 2020


As we are moving toward reopening many parts of our communities and churches, I am troubled by the speed of all of this. The rush to reopen is misguided, and if you combine this with the mass protests following the death of George Floyd, it is the perfect storm for a second wave of COVID-19 emerging. I am very aware of the need to protest right now, but at one event I was uncomfortable because there was absolutely no caution to remain 6 feet in distance with each other. Most of us had masks, but not all, and of course, the urgency of the protest outweighed the need for caution.

My deeper level of concern in reopening everything so quickly is that we will rush back to the pace and intensity of our lives pre-COVID-19. The safer-at-home protocols forced us to slow down, dial back the pressures, and reflect more. I am reminded here, of the Chinese poet, Han Shan, who over 1,000 years ago wrote this somewhat whacky poem:

Bugs in a Bowl

We’re just like bugs in a bowl.
All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.
Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!

Han Shan might be capturing our lives during stay-a-home, but I believe he is describing our lives before the virus hit, as every day we work and labor, “climbing up the steep sides, sliding back…Over and over again…Around and around.” The question haunts me: Should we return to that type of life?

Jesus himself addresses this in Matthew 6:31:

“31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Notice Jesus’ specific instructions: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

We are not to do nothing, but in striving for the kin-dom and righteousness of God, we will receive everything we need to live well.

I was struck by some of the comments of Carey Nieuwhof on why our on-line attendance is dropping, and take note especially at numbers 2, 4 and 5. It may just help us refocus our efforts.

Our inspiration this week comes from none other than the late James Baldwin:

“I conceive of God, in fact, as a means of liberation and not a means to control others.”

–James Baldwin: “In Search of a Majority” address delivered at Kalamazoo College (February 1960); republished in Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1961)

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


June 1, 2020

It is a dark Monday today in that we have passed the 100,000-death milestone in the U.S. of COVID-19 deaths, and over 363,000 deaths worldwide.  Today is also a designated “National Day of Mourning and Lament” suggested by Sojourner’s Magazine and endorsed by a number of U.S. city Mayors.  I ask you to pause this day and pray for all those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19, and pray for strength and courage for their surviving families and loved ones.

This is a sobering reminder that even as excitement builds over the reopening of parts of our state, including churches, the Corona virus is still active in our midst and it makes no discriminating difference who it infects.  All of us are still at risk!

As we have released guidelines for our United Methodist Churches to reopen their buildings, I want to emphasize the need to go slowly in this process.  No one can open their church buildings without following each of the guidelines we have prescribed: developing a detailed plan of action, having that plan approved by your appointed pastor and Administrative Council or equivalent, and then submitting the plan for approval by your District Superintendent on behalf of the annual conference.  This includes rental groups and pre-schools.  If you are going through an appointment change, we also want the incoming pastor to be a part of the planning and decision-making.

Some churches are anxious to open your buildings right away, but I caution against this and would recommend that you wait until the end of June before doing so.  I am allowing local church pastors and churches to make this decision, but I strongly recommend that you wait until you are fully prepared for all the contingencies.  Here are some of my reasons:

First, with all the restrictions we are under by state, county, city, and health agencies like the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our worships will not be the same as before.  There will be no hugging or personal contact, no singing, no responsive reading, no food or social hour, and people will have to wear masks and keep at least six feet apart.  All of the things that make up the intimacy of our worship and fellowship are prohibited.  It will only be a shell of what we know as our Christian worship experience.  Would we not be better off using the virtual platform that we have come to know for a time longer and be completely safe?

Second, no amount of prevention can ensure that a COVID-19 infection will not take place.  Because of the nature of our older sanctuaries, they are one of the worse places to inhibit the virus, and only one person who is infected has the potential to spread it to many who they may come into contact with.  We have witnessed too many cases in which one infected person with no outward symptoms (asymptomatic) spreads the virus in all the social gatherings he or she attends.

Finally, because the legal issues are so new, we still do not know the full extent of our legal liability as a church and annual conference when it comes to those who may be infected at one of our services.  We are working hard with our insurance agents, but even they do not know the full extent of our coverage when it comes to this issue.  We will continue to update you as we work with our insurance carrier.

So, my personal recommendation is to use this time to get your buildings and worships ready without physically reopening.  It is not a time to be idle, but also not a time to take unnecessary risks.  I pray that you will consider these issues and deeply think through your next steps.

For inspiration this week:

“We have a chance to do something extraordinary. As we head out of this pandemic, we can change the world. Create a world of love. A world where we are kind to each other. A world where we are kind no matter what class, race, sexual orientation, what religion or lack of or what job we have. A world we don’t judge those at the food bank because that may be us if things were just slightly different. Let love and kindness be our roadmap.” ― Johnny Corn
Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and a salute to all of our military veterans and a tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We honor them on this day. As a modern tribute, let us also include all of our front-line workers, both emergency and health care professionals, who every day risk their own lives working in this time of COVID-19. We thank them for their dedication and courage, and pray for their safety!

We have witnessed some of our national and state leaders proclaim that it is safe for our churches to return to open and public worships. I do not believe these decisions are based solely on sound medical advice and practice, but rather a rush to reopen everything due to the pressures of popularity or the bottom line of reviving the economy. I also realize that our churches are hurting financially, but we need to value people’s health and lives over any material possessions. If it is a choice of protecting people’s health and saving lives, versus whether or not our churches financially survive, it is clear to me that people matter far more than physical objects. Hopefully, we can attend to both of these. But, on a priority list, there is no question that people rank far higher than any church property. I do want to share our phased plans for reopening of in-person worship. We, as your California-Pacific Conference leadership propose a process for your own local church. Here are the broad steps involved:

  • Follow the protocols set forth by your state, county or city in reopening in-person worship services.
  • Develop a detailed plan of action that will be implemented before the date of resuming in-person worships.
  • Create a local church task force that will create and implement the plan.
  • Have the plan approved by your Administrative Council or leadership equivalent.
  • Submit the final plan for to your District Superintendent for final approval.

We are working on a check-off form to guide your local church plan, and this should be available later this week, as well as a document that includes all the relevant information involved in relaunching your in-person worship services.

We have been told that Governor Newsom will be making some specific announcements about reopening churches in California today, and already Governor Ige of Hawaii has approved churches to reopen. Our proposed Cal-Pac steps outlined above can be worked on immediately, and if followed, they will not take long to be approved by your District Superintendent. Please remember that this applies to any groups who currently rent from your local church.

According to our Book of Discipline, all appointed clergy do have the authority over the worship service itself, and clergy do have the authority to delay the reopening of in-person worship if they feel it is not yet safe. We have full confidence that our appointed clergy and lay leadership will be able to work this out amicably. For those who will be receiving a new pastor this coming July, we ask that you include your incoming pastor in the plans for relaunching.

There will be major adjustments to our worship services until a vaccine is discovered, mass produced and administered to everyone. We really hope that some form of outdoor worship can be created to begin with. Our sanctuaries are some of the worst places to protect people from the virus, due to poor ventilation and an enclosed space. So, outdoor worship is preferred if possible. This also involves the banning of public singing as all the research shows that this can spread the virus precipitously. The Skagit Valley choir practice in the state of Washington is the prime example, where one person infected 87% of those attending the three-hour choir practice, and tragically two died of COVID-19.

One additional caution will be very difficult for us: We strongly urge that those over 65 or who have underlying medical conditions avoid public worship at this time.

Our Book of Discipline is quite clear that we cannot ban anyone from attending our worship services, so those who are in those categories and are willing to risk their health and safety by coming to physical worship must be accepted. However, the church must make some kind of arrangement for their safety, in a separate room or section of the sanctuary. This will be part of your plan for relaunching your worship services.

This is the reason that online or streamed worship services should be continued indefinitely. It will be a way for those who are 65+ or who have medical conditions can safely participate while remaining at home.

There will be much more detailed information coming to you this week, but I wanted to brief you on how we will proceed to relaunching our public in-person worship services. As always, we are available for counsel or questions, and just contact your own District Superintendent.

For inspiration this week, I recommend that you take a look at this video of Chino Hills High School students:

Be the Hope, as these students are the hope for our future!

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop

May 22, 2020

First of all, thank you for your faithfulness in following our California-Pacific Conference guidelines and closing your sanctuaries to all in-person public worship services. Safety has to be our number one concern right now, and your patience has helped to lessen the spread of the virus. Thank you!

We have heard from our federal, as well as some state and county officials, that it is safe to return to in-person public worship.  But, as your Resident Bishop, I disagree with this assessment.

I care so much for your safety that, if even one person is infected with the virus by prematurely opening our in-person places of worship, this would not be worth the risk. Therefore, I am declaring that our in-person public gathering worship services shall remain closed and our vibrant virtual worship offerings remain open until a detailed local church plan of re-opening is drafted and submitted to your District Superintendent and approved, even if your state, county or city has approved reopening. This also applies to outside worshiping groups who may rent your facility. Please remember: we never closed our churches! We simply moved to a different way of doing church.

I realize that this is disappointing news for some of you who have yearned to be back in person with your local worshiping community. I am appealing to you to be patient until that point at which we have deemed it to be safe to return to in-person worship. I am praying that this will not be a prolonged period and that we will see the number of new cases and deaths of COVID-19 diminishing in your area. A more detailed criteria and process will be outlined this coming week, so please look for this information during May 25-31, 2020.

The most important reason for in-person worship to remain closed is to do no harm and keep everyone safe. Yet, another reason to delay opening is that I have checked with our Chancellor and annual conference insurance representatives and what I learned was that any church who violates this directive is subject to being fully liable for those who may contract COVID-19. This means that the pastor and lay leadership would be legally responsible for such a liability. This is the reason that I am taking on the responsibility of declaring that we will not reopen our public in-person worship services without the proper safeguards and guidelines that will ensure everyone’s safety. If you need to blame anyone for not allowing you to reopen public worship, I accept this as my responsibility.

For any direct questions or counsel, please contact your District Superintendent. If you need to talk this over with me, feel free to reach out to me at

Let me close with a prayer to our Gracious God in whom, “we live and move and have our being…”

Gracious God:  We ask for your divine presence and leading during this critical time period of the world wide pandemic.  We pray for healing for those who have contracted COVID-19 and for those who have lost loved ones.  We ask for patience and trust in your divine view, and mercy on our leaders, clergy and laity who must make difficult decisions.  May your divine values of love, compassion, and care lead us to make the best decisions for our churches and communities.  In Christ’s name we ask this.  Amen.

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


May 18, 2020

I hope and pray that some of you were able to get a Sabbath from the heavy work of planning, production and distribution of your online worship services this past week.  I realize that not everyone was able to take advantage of the Cabinet’s worship service. Many of our language ministries could not use an English only service, and had to put together their own service in their native language.  Some other churches wanted the intimacy of their own worship, and I totally understand that.

However, this shouldn’t take away from the need for all of us to take the time for rejuvenation and renewal.  We all need to go back to our Jewish roots in the Hebrew Bible and observe Sabbath.  Even if you did not get a Sabbath from worship this Sunday, you need to schedule this on a regular basis.  Remember, Sabbath begins at sundown the evening before and extends through the entire next day.  As Abraham Joshua Heschel so eloquently puts it in his book Sabbath,

“The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; The weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath.”

With social isolation and safer-at-home protocols, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life which I tried to share some of in my sermon this past Sunday.  The weak part of that worship was the sermon, but I tried to convey how much we should not want to return to our former lives, post COVID-19.  A book that I quoted a lot when it first came out in 2014 is Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance.  Brueggemann draws the analogy that Pharaoh took away the Sabbath from the Israelites and forced them to slave away seven days of the week.  Thus, the only part of creation that was deemed truly Holy by God, the Sabbath was taken away from them.  By analogy, in our contemporary time, Pharaoh has become our “culture of now,” that demands more and more of us and makes “doing” the god that we bow down to.

When I first read this, I was the Bishop of the Greater Northwest Area and Brueggemann’s words hit me like a rock.  You see, I was driving that Area and all the staff to change, innovate and prosper, and it was “take no prisoners” in terms of scheduling.   After reading the book, I asked the Director of Connectional Ministries if I was driving him and the staff too hard.  His answer: “Bishop, you have been killing us – We are exhausted!”  I then realized that I had become Pharaoh, and was pushing my own agenda to turn the Northwest Area around from decline to vitality by driving them to exhaustion.

Thank God I learned my lesson, and hopefully, I haven’t pushed this agenda completely onto all of you.  Being an “A” type personality, it is a default gear I possess and I have to intentionally counter it.  However, this social isolation time has reminded me of the brutal schedules that we have subjected ourselves to before the pandemic hit.  COVID-19, with all of its fury, has forced us to slow down and cut back.  God did not cause or create the Coronavirus, but in God’s ultimate wisdom there are lessons for us to learn from it.  One of those lessons is to slow down, and not return to the speed and pace of more and more in our former lives.  Now is the time for all of us to take Sabbath seriously, and program into our lives the time and focus of true Sabbath.  This is my expectation for all of you!

On the financial relief front, I hope you have seen that Wespath has decided not to collect clergy pensions for a three-month period.  This is not to be confused with our own Cal-Pac Board of Pensions decision to use reserves to fund clergy pensions for the last three months.  When our Board of Pensions learned of this, they could have collected those funds to replenish their reserves, but graciously, they are granting both, so churches will not have to pay clergy pensions for six months in total.  I am so grateful we have such a wise and caring Board of Pensions!

For inspiration this week, here are some quotes from Heschel’s Sabbath:

“It is not a day of diversion or frivolity, but an opportunity to mend our tattered lives.”

“It is not dedicated exclusively to spiritual goals—It is a day of soul as well as body; comfort & pleasure are an integral part of the Sabbath.”

“It is to celebrate time rather than space. 6 days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”

— Abraham Joshua Heschel, Sabbath

Enjoy your Sabbath!

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


May 11, 2020

I realize that we have been sheltering-in-place for what seems like a long while.  With the coming of summer weather, people want to get out and have the freedom to go wherever they want.  I can understand the temptation to disregard all of the protocols in place to keep us save from COVID-19, because these represent to some undue restrictions on our natural freedoms.

However, John Wesley would have a lot to say about all of this.  One of Wesley’s key questions in the Band meetings was, “What known temptations have you encountered, and how were you able to overcome them?”  If we couple this with his first rule “Do no harm,” it leads to the undeniable conclusion that we cannot give into the short-term temptation to expose ourselves and others to the coronavirus, and thus invoking greater harm on others just because we want self-indulgent freedoms.

Likewise, the major question from many of you is when we will be able to open our churches for live in-person worship services.  With the Governor Newsom’s new phases articulated, our churches haven’t been specifically designated into one of the stages as of yet, and this is probably because of the huge differences in the size of churches.

So, we need to reflect on Wesley and avoid the temptation to open our churches too early for the sake of doing no harm.  However, this doesn’t mean we do nothing.  Good leadership means not only managing the current crisis, but also thinking and planning ahead.  With this in mind, we need to start making plans for a phased in reopening.

Specifically, we need to start measuring our pews and sanctuaries and figure out how many people we can hold with 6 feet of distance between parishioners.  When we have an approximate number, we then need to figure on possible multiple service times to accommodate how many we might expect.  Of course, we recommend that people over 65 and those with underlying medical conditions not attend in person and this will mean continuation of some form of virtual worship experiences for those folks.  Since there is some evidence that singing spreads the virus more readily, we should not include choirs and public singing.  What type of musical expression can we safely use in their place?  We will have to be creative with how we share Holy Communion and perform Baptisms with social distancing.  We will have to figure out a way we can disinfect our sanctuaries on a regular basis.  These are just some of the myriad of issues that we need to think through now, leading up to a phased in opening.  I would love to hear from you as to how you are planning for your next steps.  Just sent me an email with your thoughts at

Some of you have specific questions about the Sabbath Worship service for May 17.  We want this to be helpful for you in whatever form it will take.  The purpose is to give our clergy, worship teams and laity a break from the hard work of production on this Sunday, or any other Sunday you so designate.  The worship will be a complete service if you wish to show it in its entirety.  There will be special music, scripture, prayers, a children’s sermon and a full sermon.  It will be available for everyone in the evening of May 15 and be in a Vimeo format at  You can download it or have your church members go to the link.  For any questions contact your District Superintendent who will be taking part in the service.

Finally, for inspiration for the week:

“Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” — Susan L. Taylor

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


May 4, 2020

At our online Council of Bishop’s meeting this past week, we discussed how so many elements of our current Book of Discipline do not address the current state of affairs that the worldwide pandemic has affected.  One case in point is electronic voting, as the Book of Discipline has nothing to say about the legality of online voting.

This raises the question of holding our annual conference session on an online platform, and we have explored almost every angle of doing so, including the legality issues.  We will propose a change in our annual conference rules that allows for this under the extreme circumstances that we are facing with social isolation.  However, it does not take away the disappointment many feel about not holding a physical annual conference session.  Again, we have looked at this question from almost every angle also.  It is very doubtful that large gatherings of our size (1500 people) would be permitted by this summer, and finding a venue that would be able to accommodate that many people with proper social distancing is almost impossible.  For me, safety has to be the number one value here.  Safety was never in our top annual conference values, but since COVID-19, it is now.  Like Disneyland, who has safety as one of its top core values, and the reason it stays closed today despite losing millions of dollars each day, we have to consider this as our main priority.  If even one person was infected at annual conference, I couldn’t live with myself for allowing that to happen.  Personally, I will not risk the health and safety of our members by holding a physical annual conference session.

We also thought about postponing annual conference sessions completely, but that has its own problems, so this is why we are proposing an electronic session.  We will be doing only what is mandatory for the annual conference session by the Book of Discipline, but we will miss the personal contacts and relationships that make up the substance of annual conference.  Once again, this is an example of COVID-19 affecting the very foundations of who we are and how we do church.

However, this is the time to be nimble and innovate – something we have asked all of you to do with online worship and meetings.  We continue to think of new ways to do ministry in this time of social isolation and safer-at-home.  Your thoughts and suggestions of creative new ways to do ministry are valued and welcome.  Please let us know what those might be!

One way we as the Cabinet can help has been floating around the connection, and my colleague Bishop Laurie Haller is doing this in the Iowa Annual Conference:  We are proposing all clergy, worship teams and staff take a 1-2 day Sabbath from worship preparation on or around May 17.  The Cabinet will be preparing a full worship service that you can use for your congregation, available on May 16.  We realize that many of you like to connect with your own local church and you may use parts or the whole service as you see fit.  The point is that we are incredibly grateful for each of you in working to bring the Gospel each week to your people and we want to allow you the grace of some much-needed time off.  For more information, contact your own District Superintendent for details.

For inspiration this week:

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” — Psalm 30: 5b
Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop

April 27, 2020

We are in about the sixth week of social isolation now, and there are a number of observations to make about this time. The global pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, and even with “safer at home” protocols, we have probably been more pressed than ever.  It is a conundrum: we have more time at home, but it seems that time is elusive, fleeting, eaten up by an unknown force, like the Corona virus itself.  Part of our time problem is that the anxiety that we are feeling is making it harder to focus, and with that comes distractions that eat up more and more time.  Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and with that comes looking for mindless ways to cope, as in streaming services at all time high enrollment. Having trouble concentrating and wondering where your time goes? There may be good reasons for it!

One of the anxieties of our clergy, laity and churches right now is the financial downturn that has put millions out of work. This alone is enough to make our stress levels spike to all- time highs. In fact, this is one of the main concerns we hear from many of you during this period of social isolation. How is our church going to pay its bills and what about our apportionment giving when we are unable to physically meet? We completely understand these concerns, and ironically, some churches who have been forced to go to online giving have increased their pledges and commitments! However, others have not been as fortunate.

As far as apportionments go, do as best you can.  But, we understand if you cannot pay them right now, and perhaps you can make it up later when the protocols are removed. The one thing that your church cannot avoid paying is your appointed pastor’s salary. By our Book of Discipline, this is the one thing each church must be responsible for. Our California-Pacific Conference is doing everything we can to help and, already, our Board of Pensions will be paying the next three months of your pastor’s pension. If your church absolutely cannot pay your pastor’s monthly salary, please contact your District Superintendent immediately. Our Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) has set aside some emergency funds for this very purpose and they are developing the criteria for these loans. But, be sure to contact your District Superintendent as soon as you can.

For inspiration this week, we look no further than the late Mr. Rogers – Fred Rogers – on how to find good during scary times:

“When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

May we all be one of those “helpers” during this challenging time!

Be the Hope!

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop

April 20, 2020

As I begin this Monday Briefing for the California-Pacific Conference on the worldwide pandemic, let me remind you of the “Stockdale Paradox” made popular by leadership guru, Jim Collins. This paradox is about Admiral James Stockdale who was shot down over Vietnam during the war and held for 8 years as prisoner of war by the enemy. He believes the prisoners of war (POW’s) who didn’t make it were too optimistic. In his own words:

“They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale believed these optimists failed to confront the reality of their situation, something he accepted, and then proactively worked to do something, ever so small to change this reality. He did things like developed a communication system to his fellow POWs by tapping the walls and sending intelligence information through sharing seemingly innocent letters he wrote to his wife.

Ultimately, he retained the faith that someday he would be liberated, regardless of the torture and terrible conditions of the prison. It led Jim Collins to coin the phrase: “Confront the brutal facts, but never lose hope.” The Vietnam War eventually ended, and Stockdale was freed, returning home as a true hero.

“Confront the brutal facts, but never lose hope.” This is what we must do amid the COVID-19 crisis, especially as it relates to our churches. A group of us faith leaders recently met online with Governor Newsom and he was just as articulate and compassionate with us as he has been on his state briefings. He compassionately cares about us, the people, and prioritizes our safety and well-being over the economic downturn that has also devastated our society.

Because of this, I don’t think that we are going to be able to open our churches right away. We have an older demographic as members and each person is beloved by God. I will be pushing for our own list of protocols before we can safely return to public worship, but that is realistically at least another month away. I know that this is difficult to hear, and there could be some dramatic intervention.  But, it is more likely that, for the safety of our members and friends, we will probably be using electronic means to worship and meet all of the month of May.

However, remember we are a people of faith who never lose hope. That hope is expressed in returning to live worship, Holy Communion, Bible study, visitations, weddings, funerals and Baptisms. We await in exile like our fore-bearers, but we wait in hope and anticipation that our day will dawn and we will return to that which has given us comfort and joy.

Will it be the same as before? I am doubtful. We will have to adapt to new circumstances, and continue to innovate even when we are allowed to meet in person. This pandemic has changed everything, and will continue to force us to change. I believe that is good news, as our complacency and hubris of the past has paralyzed us with a nostalgia that is life threatening. Dealing with the sheer mortality of COVID-19 has shocked us into “Confronting our brutal facts, but never losing hope.”

We will continue to monitor our situation daily and report to you when we think it is safe to return to public worship and gatherings, but never lose hope!

For our inspiration today, here is a longing hope for the future:

And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.

By Kitty O’Meara

Be the Hope!

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop



April 13, 2020

With the COVID-19 infection spreading, it is bound to affect more and more of us. Whereas, in its early stages we were somewhat insulated from knowing people who were directly infected, that has changed dramatically. A number of our California-Pacific Conference laity from local churches and even some of our clergy have come down with the virus. For me personally, one of my former young adults and also a basketball friend both have passed away from the disease. Sadly, both of them have left young families, and the gravity of not being able to properly mourn due to social isolation has left them devastated. When it hits this close personally, one cannot help but to be deeply affected, and I grieve these loses and pray constantly for their families. As the virus continues to spread, more and more of us will be directly affected, and this is the reason we must continue to be in social isolation and follow the protocols set forth by our local civil authorities. I want you all to know that I am praying for you, and please stay safe.

Amidst my own grief, I have been buoyed and uplifted by all of your online Easter worship services! I am able to travel the whole annual conference geography, from Hawaii to San Diego to Palm Springs to San Luis Obispo to hear your Easter services. They have been deep and hopeful, and we are providing a powerful witness to each of our communities and beyond. I have heard people are checking out our online worships from across the country and even from other countries! Thank all of you for making this happen and spreading God’s message of promise and resurrection far beyond the walls of your church.

The words of inspiration today come from Justo Gonzalez:

Today we live in the horrible midnight of COVID-19. What we always knew that one day we shall die, has become an urgent reminder. Therefore, as always in the darkest hour of the night, it is time to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. As death surrounds us, it is time to celebrate Life. To celebrate it, not with shouts and lighthearted parties, but with humility and faith.

In short, there is a powerful word onto which we hold even in the midst of the present crisis. Let us celebrate the feast!


–Dr. Justo Gonzalez

Until next week, be the Hope!

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop


April 6, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives and replaced the way we have been doing things dramatically. Among the many things I have noticed is the nature of time in social isolation. I have probably been busier than ever, attending to dozens of mini-crises and making more major decisions than ever before for the annual conference. Yet, the pace of time in our lives has slowed down because we cannot go everywhere we want to, nor do everything we need to. It is a conundrum because some of us are busier than ever before, yet we have more time on our hands. It has made me realize that our former “normal” was just to do things fast, quick, in a hurry, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but not slowing down enough to savor and appreciate that which is around us. The leadership writer Peter Block recently said that “Being in a hurry is just being anxious.” There is plenty of time for all of us, so why do we constantly accelerate the pace? “Safer at Home” has forced some of us to look at time in our lives and come to a new understanding: faster isn’t better!

Here are some things for us to ponder:

  • How has time slowed down for us during this period of “Safer at Home?”
  • What have we learned about our former lives from this slow down?
  • What needs to change when our lives return to our previous lifestyle? Will there be a previous lifestyle in the future?

I continue to be uplifted by the live-streaming and pre-recorded worship sessions that so many of you are doing. Because of this very personal touch you are providing for your churches, we decided against doing a large-scale pre-recorded experience from the whole annual conference. What we did decide is to do very short meditations each day of Holy Week leading to Easter. Each of the District Superintendents will share a short meditation during Holy Week and I will share one for Easter. They will not take the place of your worship experiences, but you may wish to share these with your church. We hope that these will be personally uplifting.

We are also facing a massive world-wide economic turndown and our churches will not escape this new reality. Our annual conference is trying to respond to this in a proactive way and the latest information recently went out to everyone on the steps we are taking to help our churches, clergy and laity. I know the federal stimulus bill is massive and confusing, but we are here to help you navigate this, and please call your District Superintendent, annual conference staff and rely on each other in ministry for help.

We are so grateful to our Cal-Pac Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, who generously will cover 3 months of our clergy pensions expenses, so that our churches will not have to worry about paying for this important benefit to your clergy for the time being. There are many more ways we are trying to help our churches financially, but we ask everyone to still give as much as you can.

Let me close with an inspiration thought for the week.  Rev. Carlo Rapanut, Alaska District Superintendent and Director of Connectional Ministry shared this poem with me recently. I hope it inspires you this week:

Although the church doors are locked
And the baptismal fonts are drained
of their living water-
Although our holy hymns are hushed
And Jesus remains alone in the tabernacle—
Make no mistake.
He is also here among us.
We must be the sacraments
To each other.

–Cameron Bellm

Be the Hope,

Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop