A look back at the nine months since Bishop Oliveto's election

April 24, 2017
Bishop Karen Oliveto smiles during the consecration service held July 16, 2016 at Paradise Valley UMC in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo by Charmaine Robledo for the Mountain Sky Area
Tomorrow the United Methodist Judicial Council will be meeting to consider a petition from the South Central Jurisdiction which questions the election, consecration and assignment of Bishop Karen Oliveto by the Western Jurisdictional Conference last July (click here for their full docket). Oral arguments for this case are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 25 and should be finished before noon. Bishop Oliveto has been serving as episcopal leader for the Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church since September of 2016. 

The oral hearing will be a closed event, meaning no live broadcasts, recordings, photography, texting, or social media postings are being allowed. A number of Western Jurisdiction leaders will be present, however, and WJ communicators will be working collaboratively with them to keep United Methodists across the jurisdiction informed. United Methodist News Service will also be covering the Judicial Council Hearings and we’ll be sharing their reporting with you as well.
 
Bishop Oliveto and Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, representing the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, will be holding a news conference on Tuesday after the oral arguments at the Judicial Council conclude. Video of this conference will be delivered live, if possible, on the Western Jurisdiction’s Facebook page. If adequate bandwidth isn’t available, their statements will be uploaded to the Facebook page shortly after the news conference concludes.
 
As this petition has proceeded toward tomorrow’s hearing, Oliveto has been busily engaged in her episcopal duties serving, and getting to know, the people of the Mountain Sky Area.

For readers who haven’t been following this story that closely, or for those wanting to renew their memories, what follows is a reverse chronological compilation of some of what has come before. It isn’t comprehensive of course, but it provides a starting place for those who want to know more.
 
April 20, 2017 – UMNS: Church braces for ruling on gay bishop
Sam Hodges summarizes how churches are preparing for tomorrow's oral hearing, including statements from Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, and Bishop Grant Hagiya, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

April 19, 2017 – UMNS: Preview to the legal debate around gay bishop
Heather Hahn summarizes some of the legal arguments going before the Judicial Council. Links to the briefs for both petitioner and respondent are included in a sidebar for those who want insight on the key arguments.
 
April 17, 2017 – WJUMC: Judicial Council Q & A
Leaders in the Western Jurisdiction produced a document entitled “Answering Your Questions About the Challenge to Bishop Oliveto’s Election.” It was first distributed by the Mountain Sky Area and by other WJ Conferences the following day.
 
April 7, 2017 – VIDEO: Why we voted for Bishop Oliveto
Three delegates to the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference (Kunle Taiwo, Rev. Kent Ingram, and Emily Allen) tell why they voted for Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in The United Methodist Church.
 
April 3, 2017 – VIDEO: Bishop Oliveto on Judicial Council Meetings
Bishop Karen Oliveto comments on the upcoming judicial council meeting concerning the legality of her election as Bishop. She reminds listeners that despite any uncertainty, God never calls us to do nothing.

March 31, 2017 – LETTER: Mountain Sky Area Call to Prayer
The Mountain Sky Area was invited to participate in a prayer vigil for the upcoming Judicial Council deliberations. This call to prayer was echoed by a number of other conferences across the Western Jurisdiction.

March 30, 2017 – ADVISORY: Judicial Council hearing scheduled for April 25
In addition to identifying the date for the oral hearing, this media advisory provides some details on the format of those hearings and guidelines for those attending. A UMNS feature published later in the day complemented this release with more context and information on the other docket items.

March 14, 2017 – WJUMC: Karen Oliveto’s election was a movement of the Holy Spirit
Kent Ingram, a pastor from Colorado, and Emily Allen, a lay delegate from California, write this message to the UMC. In it they seek to tell the real story about what happened at last year’s Western Jurisdictional Conference where Karen Oliveto was elected bishop.

Sept. 24, 2016 – PHOTOS: Bishop Oliveto Installation Service
The Rocky Mountain Annual Conference officially welcomed Bishop Karen Oliveto as the episcopal leader of the Mountain Sky Area at an Installation Service on Sept. 24 at Arvada United Methodist Church in Arvada, Colorado. Nearly 600 people attended the event, which included a time for Holy Communion.
 
Sept. 14, 2016 – VIDEO: Karen Oliveto: Good Friday in Babylon
United Methodist leaders in the Mountain Sky Area released a video introducing their new bishop, Karen Oliveto, a leader whose ministry is defined by meeting people where they are, introducing them to Christ, and helping them transform their lives (press release).
 
Sept. 8, 2016 – UMNS: Bishop Oliveto: God has been in control
Kathy Gilbert shares the story of Oliveto’s transition from senior pastor of Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco to her new role as bishop of the Mountain Sky Area with several biographical details included  as well.

Sept. 1, 2016 – Bishop Karen Oliveto’s assignment to serve the Mountain Sky Area officially begins.

Aug. 31, 2016 – LETTER: Changing Seasons While Living and Loving Boldly
Bishop Karen Oliveto sends her first pastoral letter to the Mountain Sky Area, introducing herself and sharing her hopes and vision for the people of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. "I pray that we live into beloved community, that we live boldly as the body of Christ."

Aug. 23, 2016 – UMNS: Bishops respond to gay colleague
Letters and comments from Oliveto’s new episcopal colleagues, many offered to the areas they served, reflect the theological diversity of the global denomination. Heather Hahn provides an overview with links to nine letters from bishops in the U.S.

Aug. 22, 2016 – UMNS: Top court will take up Oliveto election in spring
It was reported that a petition requesting a declaratory decision on Oliveto’s election would be considered by the Judicial Council but expedited consideration would not be granted.  
 
July 19, 2016 – WJUMC: Pastors of larger WJ churches offer full support of Bishop Oliveto
Several dozen larger church pastors release a “Statement of Full Support,” an action of solidarity with a fellow pastor of a large UM church. With just under 13k members, Glide Memorial UMC, were Oliveto served, was the 6th largest church by membership in the denomination.
 
July 18, 2017 – WJUMC: Bishop Oliveto: Crossing The Threshold Together
Shortly following her election, consecration and assignment, Bishop Oliveto wrote this tender letter riffing off the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference’s theme, “Crossing Thresholds.”
 
July 16, 2016 – UMNS: Married lesbian consecrated United Methodist bishop
Kathy Gilbert files this story on the consecration of Bishop Oliveto from the location of the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. It includes some early responses from UMC Leaders including Council of Bishops President Bruce Ough.

July 16, 2016 – VIDEO: Bishop-elect Karen Oliveto responds to election
The Rev. Dr. Karen P. Oliveto was elected to the episcopacy on the 17th ballot during the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference on July 15. “Today we took a step closer into living into beloved community,” said Oliveto.
 
July 15, 2016 – WJUMC: Western Jurisdiction Elects Karen Oliveto Bishop
The first public written notice of Bishop Oliveto election effectively locates the occasion in the context of the Western Jurisdiction’s pioneering activity regarding episcopal elections. The WJ is responsible for electing the first Asian-American, African-American, African-American women, Hispanic-American, Japanese-American, and the first Latina bishop for the denomination.
 
July 13, 2016 – VIDEO: Karen Oliveto episcopal candidacy speech
The Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, one of nine candidates for the episcopacy in the Western Jurisdiction, speaks before the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference on July 13.

June 26, 2016 – CAL-NEV: Oliveto Episcopal Nominee from California-Nevada Conference
The Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial UMC in San Francisco, is the Episcopal nominee from the California-Nevada Annual Conference to the Western Jurisdiction Conference.
Special thanks to Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications & Young People's Ministries for the Pacific-Northwest Conference, for compiling this document.