Last summer, Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is married to a woman named Robin Ridenour, was elected to the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church, a region which includes Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and one church located in Idaho. But she may soon be ousted from her position following a complaint from a parishioner outside her district.
On Tuesday night, church officials arranged an oral hearing on Oliveto’s case and expect to deliver a verdict within the next few days. According to the Washington Post, the church’s Book of Discipline states that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” That, however, did not prevent her from being chosen to serve as bishop.
At the time of her consecration ceremony, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Bishop Grant Hagiya told the UMC website, “We understand there may be some political implications, but in our mind this was the best person. It was not a question of (sexual) orientation, it was a question of who was the best spiritual leader. The body spoke and said ‘Yes, this is the one.’”
A woman named Dixie Brewster is challenging Oliveto’s position, though she is from a different jurisdiction from the one in which Oliveto serves. In the statements presented to the Church’s Judicial Council, arguments largely centered on the fact that Brewster and more expansively, the UMC South Central Jurisdiction, shouldn’t be allowed to overturn the decision made in Mountain Sky Area.
Arguing Brewster’s side was Rev. Keith Boyette, an attorney and elder, who claimed that the “nomination, election, consecration of assignment of Karen Oliveto as bishop” violated Church law and must be overturned.
In a post on the Mountain Sky Area district’s website, Bishop Oliveto’s general message to congregants ends with, “I pray that we live into beloved community, that we live boldly as the body of Christ and love so fully, so completely, that the neighborhoods in which United Methodist churches stand in are utterly transformed by the love that spills out of these communities.”