The Judicial Council, the highest judicial body in the United Methodist Church, has released its decision regarding the election, consecration, and assignment of Karen Oliveto as a bishop in the United Methodist Church. If you have plans to discuss this with your congregation or church leadership, please use the below statement from Bishop David Graves as a basis for your conversation.
The consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, the top court of The United Methodist Church has ruled. However, the bishop “remains in good standing,” the Judicial Council said until an administrative or judicial process is completed. “Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”
For months we have discussed this matter in our town hall gatherings, video presentations, and information provided around Episcopal elections. With this Judicial Council decision, I know that some of you are pleased with the decision and others are not. As I stated, these emotional decisions are always divisive.
However, the United Methodist Church polity and doctrine have not changed. Only General Conference can change the Book of Discipline. As we reported earlier in the week, a special General Conference session has been called to address our way forward around human sexuality matters. It will take place on February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri.
In response to this decision I am meeting with conference leaders in the upcoming days. Rest assured that we are engaged in conversations about what the implications could be in our denomination. I have arrived at the Council of Bishops meeting in Dallas, Texas, where I continue to pray for our Church in the midst of these difficult conversations. This will be a lengthy process that has been returned to the Western Jurisdiction for review under supervision. This decision means Bishop Oliveto will continue as a Bishop of the Church until such process is completed.
Again my counsel to you is this: we must stay focused on the mission and ministry of making disciples. Furthermore, in the Alabama-West Florida Conference we will abide by The Book of Discipline. In that context I ask you to join me as we win people to Christ, see the unseen, transform lives and change this corner of the world. Easter begs us to proclaim this message to the world.
Bishop David W. Graves
The Alabama-West Florida Conference