On Friday, April 28, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law as laid out in our denomination’s Book of Discipline. The decision came in response to a complaint filed against Bishop Karen Oliveto who is married to a woman, Robin Ridenour. Bishop Oliveto had been the pastor of Glide Memorial Church, a large United Methodist Congregation in San Francisco. On July 15, 2016, she was elected Bishop by our Western Jurisdictional Conference and subsequently appointed to serve as bishop in the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences which stretch from Colorado to Montana.
In issuing the ruling, the Judicial Council did not go so far as to remove Bishop Oliveto from her appointment; rather, they deferred to the Western Jurisdiction until an administrative or judicial process is completed.
The ordination of gay and lesbian clergy has been one of the most divisive issues in our denomination; another has been whether a United Methodist minister can perform a same-sex wedding and remain in good standing with his/her conference. Despite those divisive issues, my prayer is that the United Methodist Church finds a way to remain united and avoids schism. Please join me in those prayers.
The day after the Judicial Council issued its ruling, I received a message on Facebook from a young man who said he had just moved into the area and he wanted to know if Orion UMC was “gay-friendly.”
I responded by explaining how I conduct Holy Communion: it is open to all persons, regardless of age, race, church affiliation, or, for that matter, sexual orientation. I went on to characterize our church as being neither overtly LGBT*-friendly nor LGBT-biased. However, we’re a very open, friendly church and our members run the gamut from very liberal to very conservative—whatever those terms mean. Nonetheless, we love one another regardless of such differences because we place a higher priority on our love and service to Jesus Christ. Please join me in presenting that witness.
I’ll see you in church,