May 25, 2021 | By Sam Hodges | UM News

California-Pacific Conference Bishop Grant Hagiya is facing public criticism, even protest demonstrations, for his decision to move three Korean American pastors from their current churches.

The Korean United Methodist Church Laity Network, Cal-Pac Korean Church Caucus and other groups accuse Hagiya of targeting the three pastors for their traditionalist beliefs and affiliations. They claim he failed to consult with the pastors and their churches in the appointment process.

Hagiya said he’s prevented by United Methodist policy from discussing why he’s moving the Rev. Jae Duk Lew from Valley Korean United Methodist in Granada Hills, California; the Rev. Sunghyun Jonathan Lee from Korean United Methodist Church in San Diego; and the Rev. Nak In Kim from Bell Memorial United Methodist Church in Rowland Heights, California.

But Hagiya insisted Book of Discipline directives on consultation were followed and denied he had any theological or political agenda in reassigning the pastors, whose tenures at their churches are to end June 30.

“I care and our cabinet cares deeply about every church,” Hagiya said by phone. “Our only perspective is about the welfare of the church.”

In The United Methodist Church, ordained elders agree to serve where assigned by their bishop. Hagiya is not the only U.S. bishop in the church to come under fire lately for appointments seen by critics as targeting traditionalists.

But protests against Hagiya — who is, like other Western Jurisdiction bishops, a progressive on LGBTQ inclusion — have grown and taken new forms. Read More