This past weekend the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC) held an election for a new bishop for the jurisdiction. A number of the Annual Conferences of the Jurisdiction nominated a candidate for bishop. After a total of 17 ballots, the Western Jurisdiction has elected the Revd Dr. Karen P. Oliveto (58) as a new bishop. The Western Jurisdiction has always strived for full inclusion in the life of the UMC and has been known for electing a number of firsts in the past. This time it has elected the first openly LGBT person as a bishop. Oliveto is married to Robin Ridenour, who is a deaconess in the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
The new bishop brings an extensive education and a wide range of experiences to her new episcopal calling. She has received BA (’80), MPhil (’91) and PhD (’02) degrees from Drew University and an MDiv (’83) from the Pacific School of Religion. She has served as the pastor of numerous parishes of the UMC and is currently the Sr Pastor of Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco CA. She also serves on a number of Jurisdictional and General Church boards and has been an elected delegate to Jurisdictional and General Conferences of the UMC. She has also been an Adjunct Professor at Brite Divinity School, Drew University and the Pacific School of Religion.
I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God. I want to thank the candidates who I have journeyed with these past few days, for the grace with which we walked with each other. And know I stand before you because of the work and prayers of so many, especially those saints who yearned to live for this day, who blazed a trail where there was none, who are no longer with us, and yet whose shoulders I stand on.
The Revd Dr Karen P Oliveto
The Revd Dr Oliveto is to be consecrated as a bishop at 2:00 pm PDT at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in Paradise Valley, AZ. Her election and consecration by the Western Jurisdiction has not gone unnoticed within the UMC. The President of the UMC Council of Bishops issued a statement soon after the new bishop’s election.
The Western Jurisdiction has elected the Rev. Karen Oliveto of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco to serve as a bishop of The United Methodist Church. Rev. Oliveto has been described as “an openly lesbian clergyperson.” This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity…The Council of Bishops is monitoring this situation very closely. The Council does not have constitutional authority to intervene in the election or supervisory processes at either the annual conference, jurisdictional or central conference levels. And, we are careful to not jeopardize any clergy or lay person’s due process by ill-advised comments…
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, President
Council of Bishops
Soon after her election the South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC voted to ask the Judicial Council of the UMC for a declaratory decision regarding same-sex church leaders.
The Judicial Council is the highest court in the denomination. It consists of nine members, both laity and clergy, elected by the General Conference for an eight-year term. The ratio of laity to clergy alternates every eight years. The Judicial Council interprets the Book of Discipline between sessions of General Conference, and during General Conference, the Judicial Council rules on the constitutionality of laws passed by General Conference. The Council also determines whether actions of local churches, annual conferences, church agencies, and bishops are in accordance with church law. The Council reviews all decisions of law made by bishops. The Judicial Council cannot create any legislation; it can only interpret existing legislation. The Council meets twice a year at various locations throughout the world. The Judicial Council also hears appeals from those who have been accused of chargeable offenses that can result in defrocking or revocation of membership.
The United Methodist Church – Wikipedia