From prayer vigils to press releases, plenty of evidence suggests keen interest in and deep concern about a looming United Methodist Judicial Council decision on whether a gay pastor can serve as bishop.
The oral hearing will be Tuesday, April 25, in Newark, New Jersey, with a ruling expected a few days later. The outcome could affect the status of Mountain Sky Area Bishop Karen Oliveto, a lesbian married to another woman. The Western Jurisdictional Conference elected Oliveto to the episcopacy last summer.
The denomination’s longstanding, deep divisions over homosexuality already have led to creation of the Commission on a Way Forward, charged with reviewing church law on sexuality and searching for ways to maintain unity.
Church leaders acknowledge that however the Judicial Council rules after Tuesday’s hearing, tensions could be heightened.
Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said in a statement that “there is great interest, disagreement and anxiety about the anticipated decision of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church.” The Council of Bishops is meeting April 30-May 5 in Dallas.
Ough asked United Methodists to set fear aside and trust that the Holy Spirit is working through the Way Forward Commission and the Judicial Council.
He’s among church leaders calling for prayer, as is Los Angeles Area Bishop Grant Hagiya, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.
“No matter what the decision is, we know some among us will not agree,” Hagiya said in a letter to church members in his area. “Some will feel hurt. Some will feel distanced from the church. That is why we must be in prayer for one another and for our church.”
“The bishops of the Western Jurisdiction believe that Bishop Oliveto’s election and assignment to the Mountain Sky Area is valid,” Hagiya wrote.
Other Western Jurisdiction bishops sent identical or very similar letters to their church members. The Western Jurisdiction also released an information sheet about the Judicial Council case.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: United Methodist News Service