Judicial Council

April 28, 2017

UMC Court Rules Against Lesbian Bishop

United Methodist Top Court Makes Clear: “Openly Homosexual and Partnered” People Cannot be Clergy, Bishops

Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
April 28, 2017
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail: jwalton@TheIRD.org

Today the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church issued a complex, highly anticipated decision provoked by openly partnered lesbian activist Karen Oliveto of San Francisco. Last year, the rapidly declining Western Jurisdiction, home to less than three percent of United Methodists, acting unilaterally to elect her as bishop.  Since being elected, Oliveto has used her prominence to demonize congregations holding to traditional United Methodist doctrine as “bad churches.”

This binding ruling clarifies several matters in United Methodist church law: Because of church standards only recognizing monogamous, heterosexual marriage and disapproving of sexual relations outside of it (Paragraphs 161B, 161F, 310.2d, and 2702.1b of the UMC’s governing Book of Discipline), which UMC clergy must vow to uphold, any “partnered homosexual … does not meet the minimum standards” for ordination, and a minister found to be “openly homosexual and partnered” cannot be made bishop. To be disciplined for violating separate provisions prohibiting the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” (Paragraphs 304.3 and 2702.1b), it can be enough to prove that a minister is in a same-sex civil marriage. This replaces an earlier church-law standard under which partnered gay clergy, in several cases, could only be removed if they answered awkward questions about their “genital sexual activity.” Some liberal UMC officials treated this as a loophole for avoiding disciplining such clergy as long as they refused to answer such questions.

However, they declined to immediately cancel Oliveto’s election, saying that normal review processes must be followed to determine if she violates these standards.

In separate decisions, the Council invalidated a resolution from the Northeastern Jurisdiction promoting disobedience to the church’s sexuality standards and ruled that the even liberal-leaning regional conferences like New York and Northern Illinois must make “full examination” of ordination candidates to screen out those unwilling to abstain from homosexual practice, adultery, or pre-marital sex.

UMAction Director and 2016 General Conference delegate John Lomperis responded:

“The Judicial Council had a difficult task of ruling on the narrow basis of church law that has been carefully developed over the years to protect the rights of clergy accused of wrongdoing—sometimes well beyond the bounds of reasonable doubt and to the point of sidelining concern for victims.

“I celebrate that these landmark rulings should now make it significantly easier to bring accountability for pastors who choose to violate biblical standards for sexual self-control. We are slowly but increasingly strengthening biblical accountability in our church.

“I am disappointed that the Judicial Council did not go further by acting directly to immediately remove Dr. Oliveto from office, in light of her dishonest and illegitimate election, as I requested in the legal brief I submitted. But these decisions move us closer, if not as quickly as I wish, to preventing those who so blatantly violate our biblical standards, lie to the church, and mistreat its members from serving as bishop.

“It is important for my fellow United Methodists to understand that we are in a transitionary period between now and the 2019 special General Conference, and that there is still much that we all can and must do in the next two years to address the heart-breaking problems that continue in our beloved, troubled denomination.

“UM Action will have more to say in the days ahead. In the meantime, we urge our fellow church members to work together to take action at our upcoming annual conference sessions, to continue the momentum for biblical accountability in 2019, and to encourage each other in prayer, biblical faithfulness, and fruitful ministry.”


23 Responses to UMC Court Rules Against Lesbian Bishop

  1. Been_There_Done_That says:

    I am hopeful that this decision, along with the 2016 motion to withdrawal from the religious coalition for reproductive choice, signals the end of Marxist infiltration of the UMC. It should be made clear to liberal activists now that if you are looking for a left wing political action committee then it is time to go and join the UCC, TEC or ECLA. The UMC wants to remain, and will remain a Christian Church.

  2. Good for them! It is also amusing when seeing that picture how the “Christian” Left insists they are racist and sexist.

    But they still need to fire her and other rebels. They admit that they are consciously violating the Book of Discipline. No regular company would let people get away with that.

  3. Gregg says:

    I see a split coming.

  4. Malleus says:

    I wish I could be more enthusiastic about this, but the simple fact is, the UMC already has lots of gay and lesbian clergy, and nothing is going to be done to them. The UMC will continue on its regularly course – ordaining homosexual clergy while condemning homosexuality on paper. The liberal seminaries are not going to change their position on homosexuality, so this ruling is moot.

  5. Mike Ward says:

    What do they mean by “openly”? Is it permissible to do it secretly?

    • William Lanigan says:

      While certainly not permissible to do it secretly, or any other way, nevertheless if the congregants don’t know at least it doesn’t make them question their church. The clergy are free to risk their own souls, but not those of their flock.

  6. Aaron37 says:

    One of the ways Paul’s statements on homosexuality have been attacked by “LGBT” propagandists is to claim that Paul knew nothing of “loving, committed” gay relationships as we supposedly have today.

    So, was Paul ignorant of homosexuality as it is understood today? The gay, Harvard historian, Dr. John Boswell, in his book “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality,” provides a foundation for the answer to that question in Chapter One of his book.


    [Page 25] “Plato argued that pairs of homosexual lovers would make the best soldiers…and the Thebans actually formed an army of such pairs in what turned out to an extraordinarily successful experiment…”

    [see also http://www.laits.utexas.edu/ancienthomosexuality/readindex.php?view=26 for a discussion of this famous Theban “Sacred Band” of adult male lover pairs.] Committed “gay” relationships were well-known in Paul’s day.

    [Page 28, Boswell] “Unfortunately, an equally distorting and even more seductive danger for the historian is posed by the tendency to exaggerate the differences between homosexuality in previous societies and modern ones…”

    However, was Paul aware of these widely-known facts? Paul was born in the city of Tarsus; on the far northeast Mediterranean coast (Acts 21:39, 22:28). Tarsus was a hotbed of intellectual activity. Strabo, the Greek historian and geographer (64 BCE to 21 CE), provides a stirring account of Tarsus and its intellectual life.

    13 “The people at Tarsus have devoted themselves so eagerly, not only to philosophy, but also to the whole round of education in general, that they have surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where there have been schools and lectures of philosophers.”


    In 67 BCE, Tarsus became part of the Roman province of Cilicia. “A University was established that became known for its flourishing school of Greek philosophy”. Furthermore, Tarsus was known for its huge library of 200,000 books and for several other schools of philosophy.


    Paul, a “learned man” of Tarsus was educated in Greek culture and history. He could quote, off the cuff, even minor Greek philosophers and poets such as Aratus and Cleanthes (Acts 17:28), Epimenides (Titus 1:12), and Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33). Paul, like any other cosmopolitan man of that era, would certainly have seen and understood homosexuality in all its manifestations.

    • Yes, and the LGBTQX “Christian” Left also tip their hands when pretending Paul didn’t know about those relationships. They assume that his writings weren’t inspired by the Holy Spirit, or they say that the Holy Spirit didn’t know either. Either way, they out themselves as ignorant and/or malicious.

      • Barb says:

        Jude 4: For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ….. Jude 17-19: But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

    • Barb says:

      2 Peter 2:2: And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

  7. John S. says:

    She is left in office, it is up to the Western Jurisdiction, which put her in place knowing all about her, to remove her if they so determine. A District which has repeatedly defied the GC. How is this a ruling against? Nothing was done. Talk all you want about clarifying this and explaining that but at the end of the 19 pages, she is still the bishop, she is still not accountable to the BOD and she will remain in office until those that selected her decide they want to remove her. Does anyone think the special called GC is going to solve anything? If they don’t get what they want the “progressives” have now been shown they can ignore everybody who disagrees with them with impunity. Until the BOD is applied the only thing the bottoms in the pew can do to be heard is move elsewhere or withhold all funds from the UMC. It seems only 2 matter anymore, number of people and the amount of money.

    • Jon Beets says:

      Another article I read said that if it is found that the Western Jurisdiction fails in their duties then they can also be charged with failing to follow church law. So it may come down to whether they are willing to fall down on their sword or not…

      • John S. says:

        Or if the GC is willing to come down on the Western Conference. They wouldn’t take her out of office, what is the chances the GC does anything to them? The WC can probably bluff the GC into folding.

  8. apriluser says:

    Interesting that we were involved in a charge and trial against a clergy woman who came out as a partnered lesbian. Her case ultimately went to the Judicial Council and her ordination was revoked. How much more a “married”, lesbian bishop!?!

  9. Scott says:

    Just went to preconference training for the SC annual conference. We have before us a resolution to form a committee to prepare the conference to separate from the UM Church. I thought this was a crack pot or protest resolution. I know take it more seriously. I think all scripture believing conferences should pass a poison pill resolution that requires the conference to leave the UM church if the 2019 GC does not take action to either enforce the book of discipline or find some other way to remove the apostate conferences and churches from the denomination. Only this or all Bible believing churches withholding the apportionments will make believers out of the GC and keep them from passing some type of do nothing resolution like the court just did.

  10. Emily Wallace says:

    The individual charges in this jurisdiction need to be able to vote whether or not they want to follow this Bishop. Those that vote not to follow this Bishop need to be allowed to form a new connectional jurisdiction, and the present Western Jurisdiction would no longer be connected to UMC. If the present Western Jurisdiction does not want to follow the rules of the church, they should be removed from the UMC and form whatever church it is they want to be. Let the churches that follow her assume responsbility for retirement and medical insurance for the Bishop and the Clergy that follow her.

    • Marian says:

      I totally agree with you. REASON! The Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason form the bedrock per John Wesley, but the UMC is willing to throw all that away with the utter acceptance of the murky, disgusting cultural and politically active infiltration/pollution of the seminaries and the very church, instead of taking a reasoned stand. It makes me SICK!

  11. Dan Given says:

    I for one am through with the UMC. It is totally inconcievable to me that the UMC does not have the spiritual stones to stand on what the Bible so clearly teaches. These spineless religious leaders and apostates are without excuse for not holding to what the Holy scriptures dictate. I would like to know who the 3 clergy were who voted to keep this person in that position. Who ever they are they need to be tossed of as they are heretical. After the split I may come back. Too bad really. I love the way Methodists worship. Looks like I am going to the Baptists or the Presbyterians. The latter have already split .

  12. palmer says:

    The Word and prophetic message is unfolding right before us! Wake up church!

  13. Charles says:

    What happens on this issue determines if I stay or if I go. If the UMC will not uphold the Bible and its own Discipline I will no longer remain a member. If the Discipline is changed to support such sin I go. The Church doesn’t have a problem with this but denominations do and several have already split over this issue.

  14. David says:

    It seems that all this work and controversy has come full circle and the Bishop is still a Bishop! Note to the GC:”God will not be mocked.” She needs removal NOW! Stop passing the buck and act!

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