Resources for the Western Jurisdiction election of Karen Oliveto



Last week Karen Oliveto was elected as a bishop by the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. While elections of bishops in other jurisdictions do not usually garner wide attention, her public ministry as a lesbian in a married relationship has drawn sharply different reactions, from celebration among advocacy groups to a request for a declaratory decision of the Judicial Council from the South Central Jurisdictional Conference to increased awareness of divisions across our global church by others.
 
I would refer you to three resources:
 
  • The statement by Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, click here.
  • The statement of the Southeastern College of Bishops, click here.
  • And the missional initiative of the Southeastern Jurisdiction, approved last week, click here.
 I conclude with this reflection:
 
The election in the Western Jurisdiction moves our church into a new time in history and into uncharted waters. In a development of this nature there are no winners and losers, only actions and reactions. In our denomination there are deeply divergent conceptions of grace, holiness and what it means to be in connection. This is the work to be done. An important expression of this will be the Special Commission, to be named by the Council of Bishops and authorized by the General Conference. A critical question before all of us is this: Can we do as little harm to each other as possible so that we might do this work together, not to change the mind of the other, but to see Christ in them, even as we wish that others would see our Lord in us?  
 
The presenting issue is political, and in some ways it is easier to keep it there. The theological and spiritual is harder, and requires more of us, because God is never finished with us and is always calling us back into community. As Thomas Merton said in “The Sign of Jonas”: "As soon as God gets you in one monastery, you want to be in another one.” 
 
I am honored to be reassigned to serve and lead over the next four years in the Florida Conference. One purpose of the four "Town Hall Meetings,” scheduled for Gainesville, Orlando, Cape Coral and Fort Lauderdale in September, is to share our concerns, to listen to each other and to strengthen our connection.  And my hope is that we will continue to build momentum in the fulfillment of our mission: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. There are signs that this is happening across Florida—to God be the glory!
 
I encourage you to hold our church and all of our people in prayer. As John Wesley said: "The best of all is that God is with us."
 
The peace of the Lord,
 
+Ken Carter
Resident Bishop
Florida Conference
United Methodist Church
 
 

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