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Methodist court rules against lesbian bishop’s consecration

Methodist court rules against lesbian bishop’s consecration

Bishop Karen P Oliveto, above, was elected by the United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction last summer and assigned to oversee about 400 congregations in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

This caused outrage, and – according to this report –  her election was immediately challenged by the church’s South Central Jurisdiction, which argued that the decision violated the church’s ban on ordaining gay people.

This week the church’s highest court agreed – and ruled that the consecration of its first openly gay bishop violated church law.

In a 6-to-3 vote made public yesterday (Friday), the church’s Judicial Council found that the married lesbian bishop and those who consecrated her were in violation of their:

Commitment to abide by and uphold the church’s definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.

Still, the court ruled that the Denver bishop “remains in good standing” pending further proceedings, offering her supporters a glimmer of hope. But it also raised the prospect of a suspension or forced retirement.

The council said:

Under the longstanding principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law. It is not lawful for the College of Bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.

The Judicial Council also decided, in separate rulings, that the New York and Illinois regions must ask candidates for the ministry about their sexuality and rule out:

Those who are gay or in any other way violating the church’s standards on marriage and sexuality.

The boards of ordained ministry in those regions announced last year that they would not discriminate against candidates based on sexuality or gender, but the Judicial Council ordered them to drop that practice.

Said the Rev Alex da Silva Souto, above, who is openly gay and serves as senior pastor at New Milford United Methodist Church in Connecticut, part of the New York region:

We won’t run back into the closet, and we won’t leave the church. The only way that I will leave this denomination is if I am dragged out.

Stephen Drachler, a spokesman for the Western Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops, called the Judicial Council’s decision a “mixed bag.” While it was “disappointing and disturbing” that Bishop Oliveto’s consecration was found to be in violation of church law, he said, “she remains a bishop of the church” for now.

The country’s third-largest religious denomination, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church adopted language in 1972 declaring that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained because:

The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.

Methodists have debated that language every four years at meetings of the church’s top decision-making body, the General Conference.

The denomination was deeply divided at the 2016 meeting of its General Conference, but averted fracture when bishops decided to appoint what they called a “Commission on a Way Forward” to propose a solution to the stalemate over issues of sexuality. The church announced this week that a special session of its General Conference, in St Louis in February 2019, would be dedicated to resolving the church’s divisions over sexuality issues.

Bishop Bruce R Ough, President of the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops, said in an interview on Friday night that if the Western Jurisdiction decided to stand by Bishop Oliveto, its officials could be charged with violating church law.

In recent years, more and more Methodist ministers have flouted the denomination’s restrictions and performed same-sex weddings. In addition, more than 150 have publicly come out as gay, risking their positions if there is a churchwide crackdown, according to the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus, an advocacy and support group. The caucus says it knows of another 30 Methodist clergy who are gay but have chosen for now not to reveal their sexual orientation.

Bishop Oliveto, a longtime leader in the church’s gay advocacy groups, was the first woman to serve as senior pastor of one of the denomination’s 100 largest churches, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. She was also an associate dean at the Pacific School of Religion, an ecumenical seminary in Berkeley, California.

Raised as a Methodist in Babylon, New York, she preached her first sermon at age 16. She married her partner, a nurse anaesthetist and church deaconess, in 2014.

She was elected last July on the 17th ballot from a field of nine candidates, on a vote of 88 in favour, none opposed and 12 abstentions.

Her election was formally contested by the church’s South Central Jurisdiction, which includes eight states from Nebraska to Texas. The evangelical wing of the church saw her election as an open act of defiance.

Said John S A Lomperis, the United Methodist director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative advocacy group.

The Western Jurisdiction was basically giving the middle finger to the rest of the church.

At the Judicial Council’s hearing in Newark, the Rev Keith Boyette, a pastor in Virginia and a lawyer who was representing the South Central Jurisdiction, argued that Bishop Oliveto’s election openly violated rules about homosexuality in the church’s Book of Discipline.

In an interview late Friday, shortly before the council’s ruling was made public, Boyette said:

The Western Jurisdiction’s decision to elect an openly gay bishop was contrary to the Discipline of the United Methodist Church, and therefore their act in electing that person was null, void and of no effect. It was as if it had never occurred.

20 responses to “Methodist court rules against lesbian bishop’s consecration”

  1. Seff says:

    Among the Apostles was the only woman suitable to became a priest – Virgin Mary. However she wasn`t. Jesus invited for the Last Supper only men. No woman can became a priest, by all means you can consecrate a goat, a sheep or a horse but in eyes of God it is meaningless. If you cannot perceive it you better go to exorcist ASAP

  2. CoastalMaineBird says:

    The only way that I will leave this denomination is if I am dragged out.

    Somebody ‘splain to me why this guy is so desperate to stay in a cult that by and large, hates him.

  3. CoastalMaineBird says:

    The only way that I will leave this denomination is if I am dragged out.

    Somebody ‘splain to me why this guy is so desperate to stay in a cult that by and large, hates him.

  4. Angela_K says:

    I have zero sympathy for any Lesbian, Gay etc person who remains an active member of these religious cults. The various religions have, and continue to preach hate and actively campaign against us enjoying the same rights and freedoms of heterosexuals. LGBT people who support these religions are Stockholm syndromed quislings, if they had any sense of honour they’d leave the cults they support.

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    Angela_K said “I have zero sympathy for any Lesbian, Gay etc person who remains an active member of these religious cults.” And I’m not sure I have much to add to that.

    But just you watch: when the Methodists do allow same-sex clergy, they will never ever ever stop crowing about how progressive they are. They are against it until they are for it, then they invented it, and the secular social trend they were the last to adopt is magically something that they invented.

  6. barriejohn says:

    “Virgin” Mary – hahahahaha!!!!!

    Angela: Did you see the following tonight?

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/04/30/vicar-slams-homophobic-church-as-he-quits/

    “I am looking forward to no longer feeling that a significant part of me is rejected by the organisation that I work for and have served faithfully.”

    Good for him. It’s the only way.

  7. TT says:

    I have zero sympathy, and absolutely no respect for anyone, who is a member of a religious cult. In fact I revile them with a passion.

  8. Angela_K says:

    @barriejohn. Yes, I did read that. It is a shame so few of the religious cannot remove their rose-tinted spectacles and see their cults for what they are. Fair play to this vicar, having made this one step perhaps he will have the courage to take another out of his cult altogether.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Angela: Yes – it’s one step at least.

    TT: That’s very harsh. Many are indoctrinated from birth, and ensnared before they even realize that there is such a thing as a different world view. Also, I knew of many cases of successful businessmen amongst the Plymouth Brethren (yes – many!) who employed members of their large families, and even bought houses for them or set them up in their own business enterprises. It’s difficult enough as it is to extricate yourself from a cult that your entire family belongs to without these added problems. I knew some personally whom I am sure had no religious faith of their own, but just went along with it all, but I wouldn’t judge them. A single man like myself can extricate himself quite easily, but if you are married, probably with children, it’s a completely different story.

  10. Brian Jordan says:

    Why not just have yet another schism? There must be quite enough people, who are not happy in a sect that is not happy with them, to set out on their own. What’s one more denomination among thousands?
    (Cue man on bridge joke.)

  11. Barty says:

    BJ … you assume too much. And you got it wrong as you often do. I got out of a cult into which I was submerged as a very young child. I fought very very hard to escape. I saw through it all very early on but it took me a while to assert myself sufficiently to escape. But I did … I was 13. So get your facts right before you pass judgement. Sometimes you almost come across like a religious cleric … overconfident in your assertionsz and rather hectoring in tone.

    There … thats my answer … and you made me say it.

  12. David Anderson says:

    Barty: Do you know the difference between a fact and an anecdote?

    barriejohn said. “Many are indoctrinated from birth…”. He did not claim ALL were. What followed was an account of his own experience.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Barty: Bully for you then!

  14. Stuart H. says:

    Local Methodists have broken ranks with other Christian denominations in saying they’ll happily conduct same sex church marriages, so I was puzzled by this report until looking further.
    I see the UMC in the US is much closer to 19th century Anglicanism – more woo-woo around communion and such antics, bishops, very hierarchical structure and a ‘do what your betters tell you, or else’ attitude. UK Methodism ditched that malarkey a century or more ago.
    Eventually, guess if you’re Christian and live in the US you choose between having a silly title and a seat on the board or not lying through your teeth for the rest of your life. But that’s hardly limited to gays and Methodists, is it?

  15. Daz says:

    “rather hectoring in tone”

    On the contrary, he is a great big delightedful old barriejohn.

  16. Robster says:

    I take it the out of practise homosexuals are quite welcome then?

  17. John says:

    Seff ‘s claim ‘Jesus invited for the Last Supper only men’ is based on what, exactly?
    It is not written in the New Testament.
    It mentions his favourite companion but without specifying the name or sex of the favoured person.
    Of course, there is also no real evidence the so-called last supper ever took place or that Yeshua the Jew ever even existed; so it is all nonsense, anyway.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Daz: How dare you make comments about my personality! (My sister used to love that series. Believe it or not, at the time we actually lived next door to a Mr & Mrs Hector.)

    John: Of course it never took place. The idea of consuming the body of one’s god is borrowed from pagan sources, like much Christian tradition.

    http://atheistcamel.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/eating-gods-body-has-christianity-any.html

  19. gedediah says:

    Honestly, who cares? Let them tear themselves apart with this stuff. There are decent people in the church trying to fight bigotry. But, since their world view is skewed with nonsense, they’re doomed to fail.

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