It is with deep gratitude in my heart that I write this final letter to the churches, laity, and clergy of the Desert-Southwest Annual Conference. It has only been a brief 15 months that I have served here, but my time has been marked by the quality and not the quantity of experience. I realize that in such a short time, and having also to serve the California-Pacific Annual Conference, I was not able to get to know you like I would have liked. However, I think we have all tried to make the best of this situation, and it has been an honor to be with you.
I am deeply grateful that you welcomed me with such warm hospitality and openness. You made me feel like I was one of you, and you trusted me with some of the challenges and concerns that the annual conference was experiencing.
We have started the process of healing and reconciliation that some of you have been needing, and programs and systems are being put into place to further our progress. We are directly addressing the issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity for our annual conference that mirrors similar concerns in our state and cities. We are working on a comprehensive plan to address power dynamics and clergy morale. With an outside consultant from the General Council on Finance and Administration and also a consultant from the General Commission on Religion and Race, we are making headway on assessing our annual conference and expect a comprehensive report with major recommendations from them.
I sincerely wish I had more time to solidify our new direction, but you will be receiving a wonderful gift in the newly elected Bishop Carlo Rapanut. I have known Bishop Rapanut for years of serving as the Bishop of the Greater Northwest Area, and you will find him warm, relational, and extremely competent. I can think of no better person to continue the work we have started and also to take the annual conference to greater heights!
As I retire from the Episcopacy, I will enter a new phase of my life as the President of the Claremont School of Theology. As the Desert-Southwest Annual Conference is one of the Corporate entities of CST, my relationship with you will continue through my new role, and I look forward to working with you in giving oversight to our seminary.
So, as my time with you comes to an end, let me express again my gratitude and thanksgiving first to God and then to all of you for enabling me to serve with joy and love.
May you continue to be the Hope,
The people of the Desert Southwest Conference are invited to contribute to the Bishop Hagiya Leadership Fund, his legacy gift, which supports leadership initiatives for clergy and laity in the region as an institute or center for Leadership and Innovation. Click here to learn more.
To contribute directly to the fund, you can mail a check to California-Pacific United Methodist Foundation Attn: Bishop Hagiya Leadership Fund PO Box 2590 Pasadena, CA, 91102-2590. An online option will be posted when it becomes available.