DENVER, Sept. 22 – United Methodist leaders representing five Western U.S. states today released a video introducing their new bishop, Karen Oliveto, a leader whose ministry is defined by meeting people where they are, introducing them to Christ, and helping them transform their lives.
The video, Karen Oliveto – Good Friday in Babylon, shares the story of a bishop born on Good Friday and raised in Babylon, N.Y., 30 miles from New York City. Called to ministry at age 11, she preached her first sermon at 16, went to college, seminary, and got her first pastoral experience at a small church in upstate New York.
In 2008, Bishop Oliveto became the first woman senior pastor at the historic Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, a 12,000-member congregation that ranks among the largest United Methodist churches in the nation. She was the first woman to lead a church in the denomination’s 100 largest congregations. She is also the first openly lesbian bishop in The United Methodist Church.
Bishop Oliveto, 58, began her service in the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area (region) on Sept. 1. She leads 400 United Methodist congregations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and a small slice of Idaho.
“Bishop Oliveto brings a deep love of Christ and passion for the local church to our area,” says the Rev. Kent Ingram, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs, Colo. “I can’t wait for the people to get to know her, to hear her preaching, experience her spiritual leadership, and feel the passion for ministry that she brings. This video gives you a taste of what a blessing she is for the church.”
Curtis Bradford credits Bishop Oliveto with getting him off the streets and drugs and alcohol, introducing him to Christ, and helping him change his life six years ago at Glide.
“When people question whether she’s qualified to be bishop, why does it matter whether she’s gay or straight? It’s who she is, but it’s also the way she lives and the way she loves, and I can’t think of any better example than our bishop, Dr. Karen Oliveto,” Bradford says in the video.
The Rev. Tyler Amundson, pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Helena, Mont., says “Bishop Oliveto brings to the episcopacy the know-how to encourage churches to reach new people with Christ’s love and she shares the gospel in a way that calls out the Holy Spirit in long-time Christians.”
The nearly eight-minute video was first publicly shown on Sept. 17 during Bishop Oliveto’s installation service for the Yellowstone Annual (regional) Conference in Bozeman, Mont. Her second installation for the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24 in Denver.
Charmaine Robledo, Director of Communications
Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church