Benson Kua is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Benson Kua is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lesbian Methodist bishop continues to oversee UMC Mountain Sky Area despite ruling that consecrating gay bishops is a violation of church law.

The Reverend Dr. Karen Oliveto continues to be the bishop of Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church (UMC). This happened even after the Judicial Council of the UMC ruled that church law is violated when a gay bishop is consecrated. The 19-page decision was a complex one which may lead to confusion. Rev. Oliveto was the first openly gay woman to serve as a UMC bishop.

The decision was passed on a six to three vote and included questions such as the nomination's legality, her election, consecration, and finally her assignment as a gay bishop. She was elected in July 2016 and assigned to serve an area which includes Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and part of Idaho. Her previous experience was a pastor of San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church.

She came out as openly gay while she was still in the seminary. She realized seminary was making her question everything she knew and then reforming and rebuilding it. She found that she was seeing the lives led by faithful LGBTQ people for the first time, realizing that their stories were similar to her own. Reflecting on that time she said, “I realized that for most of my life, I knew I was a lesbian but really suppressed it very hard.”

The problem with the UMC was that the church itself does not condone any homosexual practices. Church authorities believe that it is not compatible with Christian teaching. She said, “we have much to learn about human sexuality. And we can't be afraid to talk about it.” The UMC support all civil rights given to families but do its utmost when it comes to refusing the marriage of LGBTQ couples.

As a bishop, Oliveto started her tenure September 1, 2016. However, just after her election by Western Jurisdictional Conference, the Judicial Council received a complaint. A subsequent hearing was held on April 25 in New Jersey. The decision was given three days later. Citing the UMC Book of Discipline, the council said “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdiction or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

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