Message on Judicial Council Decision No. 1431
Concerning the Election of Bishop Karen Oliveto
As you have probably already heard, the Judicial Council met this past week and released its ruling on the South Central Jurisdictional challenge to Bishop Karen Oliveto’s election as a Bishop in our Western Jurisdiction.
The decision came as a 19-page digest that is thick and technical in nature, with numerous points that are up for interpretation and without a clear and concise direction. I want to reiterate the fact that, contrary to the news headlines, the Judicial Council did not invalidate Bishop Oliveto’s nomination, election and assignment, none of which can be challenged by any other jurisdiction. Bishop Oliveto remains a Bishop in The United Methodist Church and is not required to step down. What the Judicial Council did rule was that Bishop Oliveto’s consecration is subject to examination.
I realize there will be many different responses to this ruling, and I can assure you that our Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops is working on a proactive strategy for the near future. Legal rulings usually create more questions than answers and this is how it seems to be in this case. What I want to emphasize to our California-Pacific Conference, and to the whole church, is that: “we must move forward.”
The ruling does maintain that Bishop Karen Oliveto remains a Bishop of the Mountain Sky Area of the Western Jurisdiction and we must all work together to move our church forward.
As a member of the Commission on the Way Forward, I put great hope in the process to which the Church has agreed and I pray that nothing will derail the Commission’s work because the Holy Spirit must be allowed to work with the Commission in coming up with some creative alternatives for the life of our church on this issue.
We may agree or disagree on the Judicial Council ruling. The California-Pacific Conference is one of diversity in many ways, including on this particular issue, and I am open to dialogue with you in hearing your concerns. But, my plea for us is that we trust the process and that we work together in moving forward in love and care, not allowing a legal ruling to bog us down and away from our mission as the Church.
My commitment is to pray for each of our laity, churches and clergy on this issue and others that confront you. I ask that you join me in prayer for the Church as we make our way ahead.
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church