A ministry of social justice has been a cornerstone of the Utah Episcopal church since its establishment in 1867. The ministry centered around healthcare, dignity for all of God’s children, and peace. Keeping with that heritage, the Diocese mandated that our Bishop further the ministry and elected The Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi in 2010 in part because of his commitment to social justice.
The Diocese and Bishop Scott B. Hayashi view humane immigration law advocacy as examples of doing the Lord’s work. Bishop Hayashi has been vocal at rallies such as the one shown from 2017 at the state capitol building. Bishop Hayashi is a signer of the Utah Compact, a document recognizing the treasured value immigrants bring to our state. Bishop Hayashi frequently appears in the media advocating immigrant rights. The Diocese has financially supported clinics and cultural centers aimed at serving immigrants, as well as encouraging congregational ministries such as after-school programs for children who are new to this country. The Diocese also unanimously passed a resolution at its 2017 convention allowing congregations to consider the topic of sanctuary for those facing deportation.
For the last several years, The Episcopal Diocese of Utah has been the largest religious group to participate in the Utah Pride Parade. Members from our congregation and friends of the diocese march to show their support for Utah’s LGBTQ+ community. Bishop Scott Hayashi is a strong advocate for civil and marriage rights for all who are made in God’s image. It’s part of a heritage of welcoming all wherever they may be in their faith journey.
One of Bishop Scott B. Hayashi’s emphasis in his social justice ministry is the prevention of gun violence. He has coordinated dinner meetings for advocates, faith leaders, and government leaders working on gun safety measures and legislative matters such as strengthening background checks. He has also marched for gun violence awareness and spoken to vigils and meetings as a gun violence victim himself having survived a shooting during a robbery.
The October 11, 2018 dinner featured Kim Meyers of the Utah Department of Health Services. The presentation dealt with a previously understudied but significant component of gun violence. She revealed a new state study that has found 85-percent of all gun deaths in Utah are suicides. Additionally, the vast majority of those come as a result of an argument in a domestic situation or between those known by persons who take their lives.
Her somber talk also revealed that only 10 minutes elapse between a threat of suicide by gun and the actual suicide. Meyers concludes the state must address these matters if there is any hope of reducing gun violence. Strategies of how to make guns inaccessible to people who are threatening suicide were discussed. The gun violence discussions will continue into the winter at the diocesan event.
“As a person of faith, as a person of belief that all people have dignity because they have been made by a creator, I believe that doing this is not only the good thing to do but the right and the moral thing to do for Utah.” – Bishop Scott B. Hayashi
Bishop Hayashi shared his support of Proposition 3, Medicaid Expansion in Utah, with faith leaders and media outlets at a press conference before the mid-term elections in 2018. Bishop Hayashi has long been a supporter of Medicaid Expansion, and was a sponsor of the initiative that ensured Proposition 3 became a ballot item.