Western conferences endorse LGBT leaders for bishop

Dr. Karen Oliveto Photo: Glide Memorial

Dr. Karen Oliveto
Photo: Glide Memorial

Two United Methodist clergypersons who came out publicly as LGBT religious leaders in a May letter to General Conference delegates have been endorsed as episcopal candidates from their annual conferences. The Western Jurisdiction will elect one new person to replace Bishop Warner Brown, who is retiring from the California-Nevada conference.

The California-Pacific Annual Conference endorsed the Rev. Frank Wulf, longtime LGBT advocate. Up until his July move to Echo Park United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, Wulf was the pastor of United University Church, a United Methodist and Presbyterian congregation associated with the University of Southern California.

The Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, is the episcopal nominee from the California-Nevada Annual Conference. Oliveto has been the chair of the board of Reconciling Ministries Network and recently served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Pacific School of Religion where she continues as adjunct professor of United Methodist Studies.

Although not endorsed by his annual conference, the Rev. David Meredith announced his candidacy for the episcopacy from the North Central Jurisdiction. Meredith, pastor of Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, was married to another man in Broad Street United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio, only days before the opening of the 2016 General Conference.

In celebrating the candidacies, Matt Berryman, executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, said, “It’s time for The United Methodist Church to move boldly forward into the future and elect its first openly gay bishops to the glory of God and for the unfolding of a new future together.”

Wulf, Oliveto, and Meredith were signers of an open letter from 111 “local pastors, deacons, elders, and candidates for ministry” with the intent to publicly come out to General Conference delegates on the day before the policy-making event took place in Portland.

“We put our credentials on the line,” Oliveto said.

“There is a lot of dissatisfaction on all sides of the theology divide about the state of the church,” Oliveto told CBS News in San Francisco. “While the ‘issue’ is human sexuality, it goes much deeper theologically into how we interpret scripture. It is time the UMC finally has an honest conversation about this.”

Oliveto told CBS that she has been fortunate to be a senior pastor at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco – a well-known progressive megachurch with high-profile attendees and a massive social outreach ministry – where her bishop has been supportive of her as a lesbian clergywoman.

According to a 2012 New York Times article, Oliveto has performed more than 50 “holy unions” for same-sex couples. “My bishop has been very supportive of me and my wife,” Oliveto told CBS, adding that many other ministers in different parts of the country don’t have such support.

The Council of Bishops has been charged by the 2016 General Conference to create a commission to explore the possibility of how the denomination can move forward with seemingly irreconcilable theological differences over interpretation of scripture, marriage, and sexuality. Half a dozen annual conferences in the United States preemptively voted to pass variations on a resolution of non-conformity to the provisions of the Book of Discipline on issues of human sexuality.

“It is regrettable that we have reached the point of such open defiance of the decisions made in good faith by our global United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president of Good News. “To elect a self-avowed practicing homosexual as bishop would push many traditionalists over the edge of what they could tolerate, jeopardizing the unity and the funding of the denomination. It is tragic that progressive annual conferences are unwilling to allow the bishops’ commission on the future of the church to do its work. They should not be surprised if their actions lead to the disintegration of The United Methodist Church.”

– Good News Media



  1. When you take your vows as a United Methodist clergy person, your vows include upholding the BOD. The only conclusion that can be drawn, therefore, is that for these candidates and those who support them, vows mean absolutely nothing.

  2. Licensed Local Pastor says

    It seems pretty obvious that a split has already occurred and the leadership of the United Methodist Church sits idly by and approves of disingenuous Elders who violate their vows, undermine the authority of the scriptures. This is a sad day for the United Methodist Church. These progressives pander to the world and want to be friends with the world. By doing nothing over the years the leadership of the United Methodist Church has in fact made their intentions clear, to let the denomination fall apart around them. God have mercy!

  3. Pastor Glen says

    Not only do vows mean nothing as Dee says, but scripture means nothing either. My challenge to 2 liberals at annual conference (thankfully our conference is not nearly as bad as this one!) in response to their saying that the Discipline can be changed was this: “Can the scripture be changed?” After all, that is what this is all about when it comes down to it. Just as Satan asked in Genesis, “Did God really say…..?”

  4. Woe to those who go against God’s Holy Word. We are to love all, the Bible does not say we are to follow the World. We are to follow our Lord and Savior. Anyone who is a leader of any denomination whether it be United Methodist or not should not endorse sin, any sin (adultery, fornication, and even homosexuality,) When a denomination goes against the Word of God then they might as well close their doors. The devil is taking hold. This breaks my heart since I have been a member of the United Methodist since birth. Praying.

  5. This is very sad. I’m sure God is t smiling about this. But one day we all will have to answere for our choices

  6. Each of these actions by the left makes the impending separation less painful than originally feared. And, as the centrists look in on these deliberate actions of defiance, they must start making plans for which camp they want their congregations to land in. As these liberal declare their independence from the UMC, the next General Conference is impelled to move expeditiously to formally grant it to them. This thing has to end now or the North American UMC will be but a historic footnote.

  7. Nita Davis says

    Disappointed that they did not give the commission of bishops a chance. They have defied the Methodist beliefs and the preachings of the bible. Sounds like they intended to do so all along.

  8. “Oliveto told CBS News in San Francisco. ‘While the ‘issue’ is human sexuality, it goes much deeper theologically into how we interpret scripture. It is time the UMC finally has an honest conversation about this.'”
    The problem is nothing like Oliveto presumes to announce before their friendly San Francisco media.
    For the past 50 years we in the UMC have been having an honest conversation about human sexuality. The problem is that individuals like Oliveto haven’t been listening. The Bible says NO. The Christian Tradition says NO. Our collective reason says NO. Our Church Discipline says NO. No means no. What part of that requires more “conversation” to comprehend?
    Oliveto and friends are not “theologically interpreting” scripture, they’re torturing the language to bend its meaning to what they want. And they’re proud of it. Both Scripture and the BOD direct what should happen next.

  9. I know that a great deal of prayer preceded General Conference. I think that we can see God’s hand in what is happening. First, the policies of the Discipline were not overturned. The progressives recognized that they were getting beaten up in legislative committees. Therefore, plenary votes were avoided and the “Bishops’ Commission” was authorized. The progressives left with nothing. Now they are acting out big time. The letter of over 100 clergy, who revealed themselves to be homosexual, is a means by which light is being shown directly on these people. We are shocked and dismayed by their action, and yet is not God at work to expose the evil? If the Western and North Central Jurisdictions elect these homosexuals and militant same-sex marriage performers, is not God at work to expose the corruption of these Jurisdictions? But we must allow God to do a complete work. We must see this cancer eventually excised. When the Bishops’ Convention presents whatever it is going to present and the called GC gathers, this denomination must prove to be faithful to God and expel the evil from its midst. If we do not, we must answer to God.

  10. This really is a slap in the face to our Lord. You are re-writing His words. I don’t understand how some of you that stand up in front of your church and lead God’s people to His glory in lies. Why are you changing the scripture of His truth to give you the right to sin. He warns us about False Prophets that come in sheep’s clothing. Yourself motivation is more important to you, and you are living in your on words. How sad!. So let’s see what God has to say! Romans 1:26-28 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lust. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and we’re inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
    As we ALL know the truth is the truth and I am going to be obedient to my Lord and His word. Praying for All.

  11. Mike Peters says

    Who chooses the candidates for Bishop?
    Does the Western Jurisdiction have a need to replace the retiring Bishop?

  12. William St John says

    I believe it is time for strict discipline to be leveled against those who choose to ignore the Discipline and the General Conference’s ruling. After all, if we really believe what the Discipline says: “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” then the souls of those who practice this lifestyle are in very deep trouble. If we really love them, we must discipline them.

    • K Karpen says

      I don’t know Rev. Meredith, but Dr. Oliveto and Rev. Wulf are both caring, wise, spiritual, committed United Methodists who would make gifted bishops for the church.

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