The Rocky Mountain Conference will be receiving a new Bishop this fall, and it is an answer to an overwhelming number of prayers that have come from our clergy and churches. Honestly, my hope was for an experienced Bishop that can guide us out of the mess we find ourselves in, but I have abundant hope that Bishop Karen Oliveto is gifted, qualified, and ready to face the challenge head on.
My prayers for the new Bishop:
- I pray that she believes that the Conference exists to support the fullness of the local church and all clergy, rather than believe that the local church exists to financially support the Conference.
- I pray that she will create healthy systems and committees/boards, doing away with the golden child/scapegoat dynamic and other detrimental dynamics that have taken hold.
- I pray that she will appoint District Superintendents that are trusted and respected by the clergy and that will respect the clergy as colleagues, and that they will be held accountable for unacceptable conduct should it occur.
- I pray that she will remain grounded in love of God.
- I pray that she will reconstruct our supervisory system so that will no longer be used to break our clergy and empower the most destructive of our church members.
- I pray that she will see vitality in churches as something beyond statistics.
For these simple prayers to be answered would cause a radical transformation for our clergy and churches which would then lead radical transformation in our communities. We are in desperate need of change, of a new culture, in our Conference.
I pray that the clergy and members of our churches will realize we have much larger issues at hand than who our new Bishop loves. If she is so mired in the muck of homophobia, she will not be able to live out her calling and appointment as Bishop. We have seen this same cycle in our rather recent history. We had the doctrine that some people were not white enough to possibly be effective leaders. We had the doctrine that some people were not male enough to possibly be effective leaders. Now we have the doctrine that some people are not straight enough to possibly be effective leaders. We need to move beyond discrimination based on genetic factors and focus on the transformation of the world through Jesus Christ.
We as Christians have the ability to bring about radical change, but only if the message of Christ is our central focus. We can end homelessness, end hunger, do away with poverty, and ensure justice for all but only when our central focus is Christ. Bishop Karen Oliveto is a ray of hope and I am so thankful to the Episcopacy and all who supported her on her journey so that we might be graced with her now.