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Three Western U.S. bishops get new assignments

Newly elected United Methodist Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky is greeted by members of the church’s Denver Area, where she will serve the next four years. Episcopacy assignments were announced July 19 during the church’s Western Jurisdictional Conference. A UMNS photo by Marta W. Aldrich.

By Marta W. Aldrich*
July 19, 2008 | PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS)

The Rev. Grant Hagiya is congratulated by Marilyn Magee Talbert after being elected bishop July 18. A UMNS photo by
Marta W. Aldrich.

Two United Methodist bishops elected in the Western United States have been assigned to the church’s Denver and Seattle areas, while one of the region’s four other bishops is leaving the Rocky Mountains to return to California.

Under assignments announced July 19, Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, elected only hours earlier by the United Methodist Western Jurisdictional Conference, is being sent from Seattle, where she has been a district superintendent, to the Denver Area, where she will oversee the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone annual (regional) conferences.  

The Denver Area is the church’s largest geographic conference in the contiguous United States and includes Colorado, Utah and the southeastern two-thirds of Wyoming.

Meeting with members from Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone following the announcement, Stanovsky offered thanks for their "warm welcome" as she was presented a basket filled with hometown maps, caps, books and even salt water taffy.

"I’m sensing a spirit of openness to building new partnerships to strengthen and grow the church," she said later.

Bishop Grant Hagiya, elected to the episcopacy July 18, will head to the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Conference, which includes Washington, a portion of Idaho and the Alaska Missionary Conference. A former district superintendent in Los Angeles, Hagiya is most recently executive director of Leadership Development and the Center of Leadership Excellence, a joint project of the church’s California-Pacific Annual Conference and the Claremont School of Theology.

"We didn’t talk business," said Hagiya of his brief meeting with his new flock after the announcement. "There was very much a sense of hospitality. Hopefully, it will model the radical hospitality we wish to have for the whole conference."

Coming home

Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., after serving the church’s Denver Area for the past eight years, is returning to the San Francisco Area, where he was a member for 20 years as a pastor, district superintendent and conference council director. His new assignment involves overseeing the California-Nevada Conference, which includes northern California and Nevada.

Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. and his wife, Minnie, are greeted by members of the California-Nevada Conference. A UMNS photo by Marta W. Aldrich.

"I’m serving the church so I was prepared to go where sent," Brown said. "But it’s exciting to go somewhere that I have existing relationships."

Bishops remaining in their current assignments are Minerva Carcaño, beginning a second four-year term in the Phoenix Area, which covers the Desert Southwest Conference in Arizona; Robert Hoshibata, beginning a second term in the Portland Area, which oversees the Oregon-Idaho Conference; and Mary Ann Swenson, beginning a third term in the Los Angeles Area and the California-Pacific Conference, which includes southern California, Guam and Hawaii. Swenson also will supervise the jurisdiction’s Korean mission.

All assignments become effective Sept. 1.

Applause erupted among delegates and visitors as the assignments were announced July 19, the closing day of the Western Jurisdictional Conference. The gathering had begun July 16 and included bishops’ elections that went into the early-morning hours of the final day. After the assignments were announced, members of each area surrounded their bishop in a show of support, accompanied by hymns and other songs.

Brown clapped and sang along as his group burst into "San Francisco, here I come/ right back where I started from."

Ripe for growth

The Western Jurisdiction’s six bishops supervise an area that is home to 390,000 United Methodists in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, as well as Guam and other U.S. territories in the Pacific.

Delegates and guests meet in Portland, Ore., for the United Methodist Western Jurisdictional Conference. A UMNS photo
by Linda Sullivan.

The Western United States is considered a region ripe for evangelism and church growth for The United Methodist Church, which has designated starting new churches as one of its four denominational areas of focus, along with renewing existing congregations.

A consecration service for the new and existing bishops was scheduled for later July 19 in Portland. The two vacancies on the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops were created by the retirement of Bishop Beverly Shamana and the resignation of Bishop Edward Paup, who has been elected to lead the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

*Aldrich is news editor of United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org 

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