“What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.” -Jimmy Carter
The Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church gathered last week in Scottsdale, AZ, and elected an out, married, lesbian as the newest Bishop of the United Methodist Church. And considered (and approved) many other legislative petitions and resolutions that will be made available for us in the near future. Jimmy Carter’s statement characterizes the mood, the events, and the outcome of the Episcopal elections last week—5 days of grace, peace, love and the Spirit of God.
It was my fifth Jurisdictional Conference as a delegate (over the course of the last 6 quadrennia) but the first one in which grace and mutual love and care reigned so completely. And it was an election! Small proof, perhaps, that an election can be an occasion of grace and love. And hope. I came away from Jurisdictional Conference believing that our willingness to risk on behalf of the whole church and the world unleashes God’s truth and wisdom and love to adequately address our times and convict us humans of both our complicity in the way things are and of the possibility to bring change, transformation, hope.
We intentionally and carefully considered the possible consequences of electing a lesbian or gay bishop at this point in our church life. But we were reminded that for the past several months we’ve been holding up the motto: It’s Time! Time for the Church to fully open to embrace all people, and the earth itself, as part of the Kindom of God. There were nine candidates for the Episcopacy and we took 17 ballots to elect The Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto our newest Bishop. Many of the candidates were beautifully qualified and gifted to lead the church, in these times and into a new future, and certainly that’s true of Bishop Oliveto as well. In the end, the Jurisdiction voted overwhelmingly (88 out of 100 delegates) to name Rev. Oliveto our next Bishop. She will bring her personal experience and a heart full of compassion for all marginalized persons to her ministry as Bishop. Let us welcome her to the Mountain Sky Conference as it continues its new formation (Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Conferences).
And as a final note, you have probably also read that we in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area will receive a new Bishop in September. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who was elected to the Episcopacy from this Conference, will become our Bishop September 1. I hope you will join me in welcoming her back to the Pacific Northwest.
Rev. Sharon Moe