SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Delegates at the United Methodist Western Jurisdictional Conference have voted to elect an open lesbian as bishop despite prohibitions against such appointments.
Karen Oliveto of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco was elected on the 17th ballot after several others withdrew from the election, including one other openly homosexual candidate. According to reports, Oliveto has officiated over 50 same-sex ceremonies herself.
“I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God,” Oliveto asserted following the vote, according to United Methodist News.
“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,” she said. “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.”
As previously reported, Oliveto, David Meredith and Frank Wulf were all nominated during the meetings of the Western and North Central jurisdictions last month, with their nomination being publicly announced by Reconciling Ministries, a homosexual advocacy group that professes to be Christian.
Executive Director Matt Berryman asserted that the nomination of the three was led by the Holy Spirit.
“On the heels of the 2016 General Conference, the Spirit of God is now raising up three openly gay candidates for the office of bishop,” he claimed in a blog post. “Building on the courage and work of the saints who have gone before, Dr. Karen Oliveto, Frank Wulf, and David Meredith are called by God to serve the church in sharing their gifts of visionary leadership for the life of the world.”
However, as previously reported, the United Methodist Book of Discipline outlines that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as ministers in the denomination.
“While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world,” the book reads.
In light of the prohibition, some expressed disappointment with Oliveto’s election.
“This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity,” Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said in a statement.
“Any elder in good standing is eligible for election as a bishop of the church. An elder under an unresolved complaint is still considered to be in good standing. Being a self-avowed, practicing homosexual is a chargeable offense for any clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, if indeed this is the case,” he explained.
Rob Renfroe of the United Methodist group Good News also issued strong remarks in light of the vote.
“It is deplorable that the Western Jurisdiction, along with many annual conferences, has ignored the Council of Bishop’s proposal, ratified by the General Conference, for a ‘pause for prayer—to step back from attempts at legislative solutions and to intentionally seek God’s will for the future,’” he said.
“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,” Renfroe stated. “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.”
Wulf withdrew from the election earlier this past week prior to Oliveto’s election.