Because of the many questions I’ve been asked, I want to update you on the decision of the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church regarding the Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Conference, Karen Oliveto. The Judicial Council functions as our denomination’s Supreme Court on matters of church law.
The Judicial Council was asked to give a declaratory decision on the lawfulness of Bishop Oliveto’s election. Elected out of the Western Jurisdiction last July, Bishop Oliveto is involved in a marital relationship that is contrary to church law. While judicial rulings are often nuanced and complicated, here are some basics: 1. The Judicial Council ruled that Bishop Oliveto’s election is unlawful; 2. They also ruled that Bishop Oliveto may remain in office while complaints against her are processed in the Western Jurisdiction.
For many this decision offers a mixed bag. On the one hand, the Judicial Council has upheld our church’s historic teaching and affirmed our traditional view of marriage. On the other hand, it has also reaffirmed our denomination’s commitment to due process regarding complaints against clergy persons. If you would like more information concerning these matters, please go to umc.org or mississippi-umc.org where our Bishop, James E. Swanson, has posted a pastoral letter.
However, let me remind you that regardless of what happens nationally, God will continue to be on the move among the people called Methodists in New Albany. Since the Judicial Council ruling came down last Friday at 6 p.m., here are some blessings I’ve witnessed among us:
–Dr. John and Lou Ann Staggs, Jill Shaw, and I attended the “I Believe in the Church” continuing education event held in Memphis, TN and sponsored by the newly formed Wesleyan Covenant Association. We were all moved by the Spirit-filled worship, powerful preaching by Mississippi’s own Bishop James E. Swanson, insightful teaching by prominent Methodist theologians, and an unfettered hopefulness that there will always be an Orthodox, Wesleyan, and Methodist witness in the world. If you would like more information on this movement, please visit welseyancovenant.org.
–22 people from our church traveled to Sunflower, MS to participate in a Delta Grace workday. Three projects were completed, and these efforts will make a tremendous difference in the lives of the families involved.
–Eleven youth made professions of faith in Jesus Christ this past Sunday as our congregation confirmed these young people into the Christian faith. This is a really wonderful thing, friends, and worthy of celebration.
–Our Camp Sonshine Committee met on Sunday afternoon, putting plans in place to bless many needy children and their families.
–Our Joel Team (long-range planning) also met on Sunday, praying for our church and discerning where God is moving among us and leading us to go. It was a rich time together.
So, as you can see, despite whatever the general church may tear itself up over, the people of FUMC New Albany are busy doing the Lord’s work and being blessed by a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit. Be not anxious, friends, be the church. I am proud and honored to be your pastor.