I want you to know we will soon have a new bishop. On September 1 of this year, our bishop, Grant Hagiya will begin his assignment to the Pacific Southwest Annual Conference (Los Angeles area) and Elaine Stanovsky (pictured below) will become our bishop. Our area includes the Oregon-Idaho Conference, the Pacific Northwest Conference (Washington and Northern Idaho), and Alaska.
Elaine was elected bishop at the Western Jurisdictional Conference in 2008. (Elected at that same conference was Grant Hagiya.) I was there and got to meet her at that time. Mostly I remember meeting her son, Axel who is an accomplished distance runner. Elaine is from Washington and served there as both pastor and district superintendent. Her assignment as bishop for the last eight years has been to the Denver area.
We’ve had an extraordinary string of outstanding bishops serving our conference. It’s not too early to say that Bishop Stanovsky will continue in that tradition.
As you may know, the big news out of this year’s Western Jurisdictional Conference was not that Elaine Stanovsky will be our new bishop. It was the election of the first openly gay bishop in the history of the United Methodist Church.
Karen Oliveto is senior pastor at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. Previously she taught at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. I met her when I was there on a recruiting trip for our conference. I remember that Karen, more than any other faculty member, made me feel welcome and even invited me to sit in on one of her classes. She’s a gifted teacher and a wonderful human being. I know you would like her.
However, our church law is and has been for some time that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.” Those who cast their ballots to elect Karen as bishop were not unaware that this is in our Book of Discipline. They choose to ignore it. And in so doing they have set in motion something that will surely have far-reaching consequences.
As I said Sunday in worship, Nampa First will be impacted far more by Elaine Stanovsky’s assignment as our bishop. But I know many of you, and I’m one of you, have some major concerns about the election of Karen Oliveto. I will meet with any of you who are interested this Sunday, July 24 from about 10:10 (right after 9 am service) until about 10:50 (to give me time to get to the 11 am service). We will meet in the GPS Building. (Don Schultze has graciously offered us the time and the space where he normally teaches his class.) This will be a time for us to have an open conversation about whatever might be on your minds. And, of course, we may find that 40 minutes is not nearly enough time and we will need to schedule future similar gatherings.
I know from speaking to several of you Sunday that we are not of one mind on this. But we are one church. I am committed as your pastor to keep our eyes on Jesus and to not let this or anything else pull us apart.
In Christ, John