Dear Church Family:
On Friday July 15, the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church elected Karen Oliveto as a Bishop. She is the first openly lesbian and married pastor to be elected to the episcopacy. This information has been shared through many major news venues. The current stance of the United Methodist Church is that openly gay or lesbian clergy may not be ordained or serve as pastors in the church. Over the past few years, and at an increasing pace, challenges to the Discipline have become more common.
At the recent General Conference of the United Methodist Church, a variety of groups sought to change our rules, but the current stance was retained. By vote of the delegates there, the Council of Bishops has been authorized to assemble a Commission charged with reviewing the Discipline’s provisions on human sexuality and seek to develop a way forward for our denomination. That Commission is expected to be formed in the near future.
In a statement following Oliveto’s election, Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, said, “This election raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.” In response to Oliveto’s election, the South Central Jurisdiction (to which the Arkansas Annual Conference belongs) voted to refer questions regarding Oliveto’s election to the Judicial Council, which is akin to the Supreme Court for our denomination. The Judicial Council has been asked to make a declaratory decision on the action of the Western Jurisdiction and other peripheral issues.
Arkansas Bishop Gary Mueller issued the following statement on this matter for Arkansas churches as we move forward as a denomination. Click here to read Arkansas Bishop Gary Mueller’s statement.
-Dr. Jan Davis
Central’s Senior Pastor