Methodists meeting in Scottsdale,
Arizona on Friday elected the United Methodist Church's first openly
Delegates at the Western Jurisdictional
Conference elected the Rev. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor at Glide
Memorial Church in San Francisco, on the 17th ballot, the
“I think at this moment I have a
glimpse of the realm of God,” Oliveto
said. “I want to thank the candidates who I have journeyed
with these past few days, for the grace with which we walked with
each other. And know I stand before you because of the work and
prayers of so many, especially those saints who yearned to live for
this day, who blazed a trail where there was none, who are no longer
with us, and yet whose shoulders I stand on.”
The Western Jurisdiction includes
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Oliveto is married to Robin Ridenour,
who is also involved in the church.
Oliveto's ascension defies the church's
lawbook, which bans openly gay clergy. But a movement to change
church policy has emerged.
Supporters of the church's current
policy on LGBT clergy condemned Oliveto's election, warning that it
would lead to a split.
“If the Western Jurisdiction wanted
to push the church to the brink of schism, they could not have found
a more certain way of doing so,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe,
president of the United Methodist group Good News.