Methodists meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday elected the United Methodist Church's first openly lesbian bishop.

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 church said.

“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.