WASHINGTON, D.C. - Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough has called on all United Methodists to pray unceasingly, intentionally and earnestly for the unity of the church as the Judicial Council ponders its decision on the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto.
A petition requesting a declaratory decision on the election, consecration and assignment of Bishop Oliveto will be considered during the church’s highest court’s meeting April 25-28 in New Jersey. The petition was from the South Central Jurisdiction.
Bishop Oliveto was elected, consecrated and assigned as a United Methodist bishop in July by the Western Jurisdiction.
In a statement to the nearly 13 million United Methodist Church members released two days after Easter Sunday, Bishop Ough said Easter is “the season of waiting for the Holy Spirit to come among us and make it possible for us to hear one another, to understand one another, to know the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
He urged the members not to be afraid. “We are Easter People and we are not afraid! Come Holy Spirit! Come and grant us ears to hear and hearts to discern your wisdom and will for “such a time as this.”
Bishop Ough pointed out that the Judicial Council’s actions are always specific to particular circumstances and its decision will not change The Book of Discipline.
He noted that The General Conference speaks for the church. The Council of Bishops exercises oversight and support of the church’s mission. The Judicial Council determines the constitutionality and legality of actions taken by individuals or constituted entities of the church.
He said the Council of Bishops is committed to the unity of the church and the flourishing of its mission and one of the instruments of this unity is the Commission on a Way Forward, which is accountable to the Council of Bishops, and through the Council, to the General Conference.
“We believe the Holy Spirit is operating through the Commission’s and Council’s leadership and conferencing,” he said, calling for prayers by all. “Pray that God will empty you of all your pre-conceived solutions and preferences so that the Holy Spirit can rush in and fill you with new possibilities, new hope, new life.”
Read the full statement from Bishop Ough here.