Karen Oliveto

Karen Oliveto Preaches Last Sermon to Congregation

on August 31, 2016

On August 14, openly lesbian Methodist pastor Rev. Karen Oliveto preached her last sermon to GLIDE Memorial Church, the congregation where she had ministered for the previous eight years. Elected in July as a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC) – a decision which is being challenged – Oliveto relocated the following week from San Francisco to Denver to assume leadership of the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area. (A complete transcript of her sermon is available here on GLIDE’s blog.)

In her sermon, Oliveto said she found it “hard to believe” that it was her final Sunday at GLIDE. “God’s call to the episcopacy, which came only as a whisper in May, has left me breathless with the swiftness of change,” she noted.

Reflecting on her time at GLIDE, Oliveto compared the UMC’s pastoral appointment process to “an arranged marriage,” since pastor and congregation were generally unfamiliar with one another beforehand. Nevertheless, she said she still “fell in love” with the church.

“I fell in love with your honesty and your vulnerability,” she elaborated. “I fell in love with the hope you hold on to and your commitment to make the world a better place. I fell in love with the way you challenged me to be a better person and pastor. I fell in love with your bling and your scrappiness.”

She added that she also fell in love with members’ “willingness to share life together,” which apparently involved social activism. Besides mission trips, this involved “pride activities, which always culminated in bringing GLIDE’s unconditional love and acceptance into the streets of San Francisco,” in addition to “workshops, classes and demonstrations.”

Quoting from Matthew 5:13-16, Oliveto challenged her congregants: “Let your light shine!” She reasoned that the world was in “dire need of light.”

“Specifically, it is in need of YOUR light,” she argued. She told her listeners to resist the lies of “systems and institutions” that told them they were “unworthy, unreliable lights.”

“Whether as individuals or communities, we are to peel off the protective layers we have built around the light of God that is within us and risk exposing our inner selves so that others may see the light of God’s love,” Oliveto commented towards the end of her sermon. “This is the source of all liberating movements. This is the cornerstone of a love revolution.”

Staff at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), particularly President Mark Tooley and United Methodist Director John Lomperis, have reported and commented extensively on Oliveto, her activism, and her election as bishop. These reports are available in archives of Juicy Ecumenism.

  1. Comment by Skipper on August 31, 2016 at 9:53 am

    How on earth could such people not know what they are doing is extremely sinful? Do they not know their own relationship with God has been broken in the process? Don’t they understand what turning from God does to a person?

    They say they can love one another and don’t see that they ignore the holiness and justice God calls us to. Now they go out to fool others into joining them in licentiousness and revolt against God. It would be a good time for them to repent and turn back to God. Our days on earth are limited.

    Proverbs 2:16-22

    “Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
    who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.

    Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
    None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.

    Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
    For the upright will live in the land,
    and the blameless will remain in it;
    but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
    and the unfaithful will be torn from it.”

  2. Comment by Namyriah on September 1, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    You can’t parody the Christian left. Everything they say is a buzzword salad:
    make the world a better place
    love revolution
    unconditional love
    deep longing for connection

    We’ll wait (with bated breath) to see the astounding church growth that will take place while the new bishop spews her unconditional love.

  3. Comment by Skipper on September 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Jesus said you are a slave of the one you serve. It is terrible when people serve that evil one, the devil. We are to bring the Good News to all people. That includes those with sexual confusion. When they have confusion at this level, it is not an easy job. But the truth will set you free and they can be healed by the Power of God!

    Jesus confronted the Pharisees many times for making up rules and teaching them as God’s rules. He said they were as evil as snakes. Likewise, these people make their own rules on sexuality and teach them as God’s rules. They say they love each other. But the bible says “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.” I Corinthians 13:6.

    Very few Pharisees turned back to God. Even so, Jesus continued to call them. We must call on these to turn back before it’s too late.

  4. Comment by StarTripper on September 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    The light of God that is within us…..yeah, right.

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