The Methodist Church’s highest court ruled Friday that the denomination’s first openly gay bishop is in violation of a church law barring the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” but it did not remove her as bishop, instead sending the issue back to the jurisdiction that chose her. Karen Oliveto could face suspension or a trial to decide her fate.
“Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision, reported by the church’s news service.
“We thought we were going to get some clarity out of today, and we don’t more have more clarity.” The Rev.
Kent Ingram, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, said he was disappointed with the decision but grateful Oliveto was not removed from her position.
“There’s still a glimmer of hope in the fact that they did not remove her from the office.” Ingram urged LGBTQ members of the church to remain patient, saying, “The right way will eventually prevail.” Ingram said he probably won’t spend a lot of time talking about the decision this Sunday, instead finding other venues to talk about the politics and issues of the church.
He noted that people within his church have differing opinions on issues regarding LGBTQ people.
The church merged in 1939, although institutionalized racial division within the denomination was not resolved until the 1980s.Oliveto, a minister in San Francisco before her election as bishop, has married numerous same-sex couples. Factions have formed in the United Methodist Church over the matter of gay leadership, within the U. Other Protestant denominations, including some Presbyterian and Evangelical churches, allow gay clergy.The expectation is that the denomination may divide, perhaps splitting into two or even three parts, Iliff’s Kelsey said.Methodists in the Southern jurisdictions are predominantly conservative, and those in the Western areas are more progressive.The Midwest region of the church is split nearly down the middle.“Myself and my church, we are going to resist on Sunday morning,” said Angie Heesacker, a student at Iliff School of Theology in Denver who is gay and planning to become a Methodist minister. And she is not going anywhere.” Oliveto on Friday said she was still processing the decision and would comment later.