Questions and Answers:

Press inquiries regarding The United Methodist Judicial Council ruling concerning the election and consecration of Rev. Karen Oliveto to the office of Bishop should be directed to the GNJ Communications Department:  732-359-1016 or cconoover@gnjumc.org.  

How did the Judicial Council rule in the case? The Judicial Council, the top court of the United Methodist Church ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, however, Bishop Karen Oliveto “remains in good standing,” until an administrative or judicial process is completed.

“Under the long-standing principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” said the decision, made public April 28. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

How does this ruling affect the United Methodist Church’s position on LGBTQ issues? There is no change at this time. The Book of Discipline states that all people are children of God, but does not allow for avowed, practicing homosexuals to be ordained or to be married in United Methodist churches. The Commission on the Way Forward was established at the 2016 General Conference to consider and review the language of The Book of Discipline and provide recommendations to a special General Conference that has been called for 2019 to review the work on the Commission.

How does this ruling affect my church? The ruling has no affect on our mission to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.

What is the Judicial Council? The United Methodist Church’s top court or highest judicial body is known as The Judicial Council. Its nine members are elected by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The Council determines the constitutionality of acts or proposed acts of the General, Jurisdictional, Central, and Annual Conferences. It acts on these either on appeal of lower rulings or through requests for declaratory decisions. It also rules on whether acts of other official bodies of the denomination conform to The Book of Discipline in accordance with procedures established in The Book of Discipline.

The Judicial Council met last week in Newark, NJ to review questions of law and declaratory decisions recently raised within The United Methodist Church. One of the items before the Council was a request for a declaratory decision from the South Central Jurisdictional Conference which has opposed the election of Rev. Karen Oliveto of the Western Jurisdiction as the denomination’s first openly gay bishop.

What is The Commission on a Way Forward? The Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. A special session of General Conference has been scheduled for 2019 where the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly will be limited to acting on a report by the Council of Bishops, based on proposals from the Commission on a Way Forward.
What is the Council of Bishops? The Council of Bishops is made up of all active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church and meets twice a year.

What are the next steps? The Judicial Council referred the matter back to the Western Jurisdiction to resolve the issue.

What is Greater New Jersey’s position on the ruling? Decisions and or announcements made by the Judicial Council are not aimed specifically at The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey and will not affect the operations of the conference. The Bishop of The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey, John Schol, is a bishop for all United Methodists in GNJ.