The United Methodist Church’s top court faces a number of questions about the election of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop — including whether it should weigh in at all.
The Judicial Council is set to meet April 25-28 in Newark, New Jersey, and leading its docket is a petition from the South Central Jurisdictional Conference asking for a ruling on questions related to the election, consecration and assignment of a bishop in a same-sex marriage.
Any decision on that petition could affect Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is legally married to a United Methodist deaconess. The U.S. Western Jurisdiction elected Oliveto in July, and she now leads the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone conferences. However, Oliveto is not a party in the case, and the questions in the petition do not name her.
Dixie Brewster, the South Central Jurisdiction delegate who raised the questions included in her jurisdiction’s petition, is the case’s petitioner. The respondent is the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. Representatives of both Brewster and the College of Bishops will participate in an oral hearing set for 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday, April 25.
One debate the church court faces is whether the South Central Jurisdiction has standing to challenge the election of a bishop in another jurisdiction.
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Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS