Desert Southwest Conference
May 1, 2022
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us:
– Romans 12:4-6a NRSV
Grace and peace be with you all this day. As United Methodists we, the bishop and the members of the Desert Southwest Conference Appointive Cabinet, have been in prayer for our pastors and our United Methodist churches and would like to share a statement of faith and grace. Our Conference has a commitment to be a ‘big tent’ church. We recognize that we do not all think or believe the same. We have differences in understanding of scripture. We have different gifts that have helped us serve countless communities in ways specific to the needs in those places. We speak many languages, come from many cultures, and hold differing theological perspectives. And yet, amidst our differences, there is one God who activates and enlivens us as disciples of Jesus Christ, sending us out into the world as bearers of Christ’s love.
As United Methodists, we continue to aspire to be a more just, loving, and inclusive force in the world. Yes, we have failed in this calling many times and we have the work of repentance and restitution to do. Yet we believe with intentional effort and with God’s help we will become the beloved community God created us to be, living more faithfully into our identity as God’s people. We have the ability to end the harm done to LGBTQIA+ siblings, to communities of color and our immigrant congregations, to those who live with differing conditions, and to creation itself. As an Annual Conference we made a commitment to end harm when we adopted our Vision Statement which reminds us all:
God calls us to be a Courageous Church:
loving like Jesus, acting for justice, united in hope.
As United Methodists, we believe we are stronger together. Our diversity is a gift from God, one we have not yet fully claimed. We need not fear our differences. Instead we believe we are called to embrace our differences in a way that models what unity in Christ looks like. We believe that unity does not require uniformity. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us how much we need one another. The pain and sorrow experienced through the pandemic has been overwhelming, yet we have risen to the challenge, and in the process we did not ask first what someone believed before deciding whether or not we would serve with them. We have stood shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, and have been the Body of Christ in powerful ways. As United Methodists we embrace a church built on loving relationships rather than uniformity in thought and action.
Washed in the waters of our baptism, as United Methodists we will walk in our commitment to love one another in grace-filled ways. We will be liberal, evangelical, progressive, traditionalist, middle of the road, conservative, centrist, or something else and together we will continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As your Bishop and Appointive Cabinet we value each and every one of you as a precious child of God. We believe that every church in Desert Southwest Conference is an important part of this shared work. There is a place, through God’s grace, for us all.
Let us all be the Hope,
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Rev. David McPherson
Rev. Dan Morley
Rev. Javier Olivares
Rev. Matt Ashley
Rev. N. Susan Brims