SERMON TITLE: “A Way Forward”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 24:13-35 and Acts 18:24-28
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: April 30, 2017, at First UMC
Despite what some of you may think, the Utah Jazz vs. the LA Clippers hasn’t been the only contest going on this past week. As most of you know, on Tuesday morning, the United Methodist Judicial Council heard arguments regarding the election and consecration of our bishop, Karen Oliveto, who happens to be a lesbian. For many in the United Methodist Church, this week has definitely been a nail-biter. For LGBTQ persons of faith, and especially for those who feel called by God to serve in ministry, this test had significant implications for their lives. For all of us United Methodists in the Rocky Mountain Conference, and especially us clergy for whom the bishop is our boss, this Judicial decision had us sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting and wondering, “What’s next?”
We finally got at least part of that answer late on Friday. The news story was released in various ways. After having read about it from several different sources, I thought I understood what happened. But then, on Saturday afternoon, I received a letter from the joint cabinets of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences, and I began to wonder what had really occurred. Finally, I was able to read the Judicial Council’s ruling* itself and found out it was much more nuanced than it first seemed. As the Mountain Sky Area cabinets wrote in their letter, not everyone will be happy with this decision that both upheld Bishop Oliveto’s election and made it more difficult for LGBTQ persons to serve the church that they love. The effect of the Judicial Council’s decision is that, at least for a while, Karen Oliveto will remain our bishop in good standing, but the Western Jurisdiction must also continue a judicial review. In other words, this is a work in progress. God isn’t done with this matter yet. We United Methodists are still trying to discern a way forward.