The Western district of the Methodist church has elected an openly gay bishop despite the denomination’s ban on same-sex relationships.
“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:12 (KJV)
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:26 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: How far will the wheels come off the bus in the end times? All the way off. Not only does the Bible not allow for female pastors, it also does not allow for gay “christians” either. So the stone-cold and spiritually dead Methodist church just got a little stonier and a little colder with their election of a lesbian bishop. You are looking at the church Jesus said in Revelation 3 would be the last church before the time of the Rapture.
The Rev. Karen Oliveto was elected late Friday night at a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, of the church’s Western Jurisdiction. Oliveto is pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. She is the first openly gay bishop in the 12.7 million-member denomination.
The United Methodist Church is deeply divided over LGBT rights. Church law says same-gender relationships are “incompatible with Christian teaching.” But several regional districts are openly defying the prohibition by appointing gay clergy and allowing same-sex weddings in churches. Some instances have led to trials under the church legal system.
Oliveto’s election could draw complaints that will prompt a review under church law.
The Rev. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, has been elected as the first openly lesbian United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Western Jurisdictional Conference.
Oliveto, 58, was elected July 15 at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. She was elected on the 17th ballot with 88 votes after the Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank and the Rev. Walter “Skip” Strickland withdrew from the election. The Rev. Frank Wulf, another openly gay candidate, had withdrawn earlier.
“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,” Oliveto said after her election.
She especially thanked the delegates of the Western Jurisdiction “who dared to live into this Kairos moment. Today we took a step closer to embody beloved community and while we may be moving there, we are not there yet. We are moving on to perfection,” Oliveto said.
She said as along as people “walk by our churches and wonder” if they belong, because of race, sexuality orientation, ethnicity, social class or immigration status, then “we have work to do.”
“Are we able? Yes. Amen,” Oliveto said.
Bishop Melvin Talbert, retired from the Western Jurisdiction, said he wasn’t sure he would ever live to see the day when the church would elect an openly gay bishop.
“This means our church — at least part of our church — has finally come to the realization that there is no longer any place for exclusion. We are all children of God regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or abilities. We would be blessed to invite all God’s people to their rightful place at the table.”
In a statement issued following Oliveto’s election, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said, “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”
Ough clarified that the Council of Bishops does not have constitutional authority to intervene in the election, but “is monitoring this situation very closely.”
He acknowledged that some in the church will view this election as a violation of church law and a significant step toward a split, while others will consider it a milestone toward being a more inclusive church.
“Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable,” Ough said. “We are confident God is with us, especially in uncharted times and places.”
The Book of Discipline, the church’s lawbook, bans “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ordination, but many gay clergy came out before General Conference 2016. Several annual conferences in 2016 passed resolutions not to conform with any church laws seen to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
On the heels of Oliveto’s election, members of the South Central Jurisdiction voted late on July 15 to ask the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision regarding same-sex church leaders.
There was some immediate negative reaction to Oliveto’s election.
The Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, an evangelical United Methodist organization that upholds the church’s current stance on homosexuality issues, said the election and other actions by annual conference this summer ignored the Council of Bishops’ proposal for a commission to examine all church law dealing with human sexuality. Renfroe said that proposal called for a “pause for prayer to step back from attempts at legislative solutions and to intentionally seek God’s will for the future.”
“Instead, these conferences have moved ahead with legislative enactments pledging non-conformity with the Book of Discipline, culminating in the election of a practicing homosexual as bishop,” said Renfroe. “If the Western Jurisdiction wanted to push the church to the brink of schism, they could not have found a more certain way of doing so.”
But the reaction at the Western Jurisdiction was a celebration.
“We just blew the socks off the denomination,” said Lynn Magnuson, laity from the Pacific Northwest Conference.
Wesley Hingano said, “It is a beautiful day.” His father, the Rev. Sisofina Hingano, was also a candidate for bishop. When Hingano withdrew his name from the ballot, he said he was doing it so people like his son could walk through the doors to freedom in the church.
“I want to see gay and lesbian people walk freely,” he said.
The social media messages in the last few days have been full of fear, said the Rev. Jeremy Smith, minister of Discipleship at First United Methodist Church, Portland, Oregon.
“All I have heard today are messages full of hope. I have two girls under the age of 4 and I am excited they will grow up in (a) United Methodist Church that tells them whatever they are, they can follow God’s call at every level of our beloved church,” Smith said.
Lonnie Brooks, Alaska Conference, said the election of Oliveto was the Western Jurisdiction declaring its independence from The United Methodist Church.
“A lot of folks will look at it and think that is what they intend. What they haven’t given much thought to is that this will also cause a split in the West. We have some of the strongest red states here,” Brooks said, sounding a note of caution.
The Rev. William Lawrence — former president of the Judicial Council, the church’s top court — said before Oliveto was elected that if an openly gay person were elected bishop, anyone in the denomination could file a complaint. Some evidence, such as a wedding license, would be needed to merit processing of the complaint, he added.
The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News, said the Western and Northeastern Juridiction’s actions “effectively renouncing their connection to the rest of global United Methodism” mean that evangelicals and traditionalists within the church will be conferring in the next few days to agree upon responses to what he called “this grave breach of unity.”
“If our covenant is no longer in force, we will be forced to live into a new reality in our denomination,” he said.
Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial United Methodist organization that advocates for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) “celebrates with great joy the election of the first openly lesbian bishop in The United Methodist Church.”
“This is an historic moment in the movement of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) persons for spiritual and civil equality both in the church and the public square,” the group said in a statement.