Key questions in the Oliveto case

On July 15, 2016, during the session of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, Dixie Brewster, a delegate and lay member of the Great Plains Annual Conference, asked that the delegates to request a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the following matter:

“Is the nomination, election, consecration, and/or assignment as a bishop of The United Methodist Church of a person who claims to be a ‘self-avowed practicing homosexual’ or is a spouse in a same-sex marriage lawful under The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church?”

Specifically, Brewster wanted to know how United Methodism’s standards on ordination and same-sex marriage applied to the nomination, election, consecration and/or assignment as bishop of a person who claims to be a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” or is a spouse in a same-sex marriage or civil union?

In her motion, Brewster asked some key questions:

• Does a public record that a nominee for the episcopacy is a spouse in a same-sex marriage disqualify that person from nomination, election, consecration and/or assignment as a bishop in The United Methodist Church?

• If a jurisdictional conference nominates, elects, consecrates, and /or assigns a person who, by virtue of being legally married or in a civil union under civil law to a same-sex partner, would be subject to a chargeable offense, is the action of the jurisdictional conference null and void?

• Is it lawful for one or more of the bishops of a jurisdiction to consecrate a person as bishop when the bishop-elect is known by public record to be a spouse in a same-sex marriage or civil union?

• When a bishop, district superintendent, district committee on ordained ministry, Board of Ordained Ministry, or clergy session becomes aware of or is made aware that a clergy person is a spouse in a same sex marriage or civil union of public record, does such information in effect and in fact amount to a self-avowal of the practice of homosexuality as set forth in the Discipline and related Judicial Council decisions?

The motion made by Brewster was seconded and then adopted by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference by a vote of 109 for the motion to 84 against the motion, a 56.48 percent majority.

The United Methodist Judicial Council will hear the oral arguments of the case on April 25, 2017.


To read the brief on behalf the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops click  HERE.

To read the brief on behalf of Ms. Dixie Brewster, the South Central Jurisdiction lay delegate who made the motion requesting the declaratory decision, click HERE.

To read a reply to the brief on behalf the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops click HERE.


  1. Let me see if I got this straight. Since she was never proven guilty of any infraction she is a member in good standing and therefore eligible to be bishop. Even if she was “married” that is not the same as self avowed practicing homosexual since there is no way to prove intimate contact. So there you go. If a jurisdiction ignores the rules everyone is eligible.

    And then on the other hand her public statements amount to self-avowed practicing homosexual and she is indeed not eligible for office. A jurisdiction cannot override the policy established by GC.

    I wonder how the Judicial Council will split this baby?

  2. The protected rights of individual clergy to due process vs jurisdictions and annual conferences are allowed to follow their own collective conscience in defiance of General Conference and the Discipline……..

    The UMC is facing an even greater impasse than the sexuality question. Just maybe that Big Tent that was erected in 1972 to embrace theological plurality has reached its limits.

  3. Grant them their independence and end this nightmare before it ends this denomination. The thirteen signing bishops of the Western Jurisdiction brief essentially did just that as they affixed their names to it. As they intentionality break their vows, they now operate outside the church independently anyway. The election of the lesbian bishop was even seen as an independence declaration from the UMC by delegates voting for her. Stop these needless judicial proceedings, face reality, get on to the called General Conference, and end this schism by granting independence voluntarily or involuntarily.

  4. You are calling for a purge. I doubt if many UMC members have the stomach for that.

  5. I think the Bishops would be surprised how many of the laity are ready for a purge.

  6. Purge or hemorrhage? Does it matter at this point? Satan is laughing as sin is not being rooted out of our faith and our numbers dwindle. We continue to plod along while there is open disobedience to our Discipline and our God. If our leadership were a train it would have rusted to the track long ago. Excuse me while I go treat my itchy ears 2Tim4:3 and sharpen my sword of the spirit and polish my spiritual armor the battle is coming and I must be prepared.

  7. Seriously, seriously this is the argument the Western Jurisdiction is going to pursue to justify their schismatic and apostate actions???

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