Methodist Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop, But Bishop Leader Says Being Lesbian Is ‘Chargeable Offense’

Rev. Karen Oliveto is the first elected bishop in the United Methodist church to be openly gay. Oliveto is a self-proclaimed lesbian and reverend at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. The Methodist church’s Western division chose to elect Oliveto as their bishop despite the denomination’s ban on same-sex marriages. Although Oliveto was elected by her division, the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops says that it is a “chargeable offense” for clergy of the United Methodist Church to practice homosexuality.

The Daily Mail reports that San Francisco-based Reverend Karen Oliveto was elected to the position of Bishop and has officially become the first openly gay bishop in the United Methodist Church. The church is deeply divided on LGBT issues, with the church on a national level banning the appointing of gay clergy and denying same-sex marriages within the church. However, the Western division of the United Methodist Church has defiantly opposed the bans by appointing gay clergy, hosting same-sex marriages within the churches and, now, appointing an openly lesbian bishop.

In fact, the United Methodist Church recently reported that the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church has called the church’s stance on gay issues “wrong” and that their division will extend “extravagant hospitality” to all people including the LGBT community. The Western Jurisdiction says that the bible is clear that God’s love extends to all people, including homosexuals. Therefore, the church says that the United Methodist Church’s national statement that “homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching” is “wrong” and should be reevaluated.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, the president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, says that all of the bishops in the Western Jurisdiction are “of one mind” regarding the LGBT issue and that the church as a whole should be more accepting.

“We believe that our beloved United Methodist Church has been less than faithful to the biblical mandate to accept all God’s children including our LGBTQ(IA) brothers and sisters.We assume responsibility for preaching and teaching in every place we serve, this good news of Christ Jesus who welcomes all. The Western Jurisdiction embraces the denominational brand promise of ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors’ and is working to make it a reality.”

The Western Jurisdiction is now attempting to act on their commitment to changing the view of the United Methodist Church regarding homosexuality and has defiantly appointed the openly gay Rev. Karen Oliveto in a seemingly symbolic statement for the division. Although the church has other openly gay clergy in the Western Division, Oliveto will be the first to be appointed as a bishop.

However, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, notes that Oliveto may be committing a “chargeable offense” within the church by holding a clergy position while embracing her homosexuality.

“Being a self-avowed, practicing homosexual is a chargeable offense for any clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, if indeed this is the case.”

Ough goes on to note that the “situation” is being monitored very closely by the Bishop’s council and that they believe the issues within the church are real but can be reconciled.

“The Council of Bishops is monitoring this situation very closely. Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable. We are confident God is with us, especially in uncharted times and places. There is a future with hope.”

[Image via Karen Oliveto/Twitter]