Karen Oliveto (born April 4, 1958) is the first openly lesbian bishop to be elected in the United Methodist Church. She was elected bishop on the night of July 15, 2016, at the Western Jurisdictional conference. Her four-year term of service began September 1, 2016 and she currently serves as the bishop of both the UMC's Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences; she was officially installed on September 24. At the time of her election, she was the senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. Oliveto is married to Robin Ridenour, who is a deaconess in The United Methodist Church's California-Nevada Conference.
|Resident Bishop, Mountain Sky Episcopal Area|
|Church||United Methodist Church|
|Diocese||Yellowstone Annual Conference and Rocky Mountain Annual Conference|
|In office||July 1, 2016 – present|
|Previous post||Senior Pastor, Glide Memorial UMC|
Originally from Long Island, NY. She was born on Good Friday (April 4, 1958) and raised in West Babylon, which is on the South Shore of Long Island. She grew up in the Babylon United Methodist Church (NY) and had her call to ministry at the age of 11. She preached her first sermon at 16 and began working as a student pastor when she was 18.
She has served parish and campus ministries in rural and urban settings in both NY and California. In 2004, she performed the first legal same-gender marriage held in a United Methodist Church during SF’s “Winter of Love”. She has served as the associate dean of academic affairs at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, where she also taught United Methodist History/Doctrine/Polity and Evangelism as adjunct professor for 12 years.
Oliveto is a graduate of Pacific School of Religion (MDiv, 1983) and Drew University, where she received a Ph.D. in Religion and Society in 2002 as well as a BA (cum laude) Psychology, 1980 as well as a MPhil, 1991 Her PhD is in Religion and Society. Her dissertation topic was: "Movements of Reform, Movements of Resistance: Homosexuality and The United Methodist Church. A Case Study"
Status as BishopEdit
On April 28, 2017, The United Methodist Church's high court ruled 6-3 that while her lesbian status was in violation of the Church's policies governed by the Book of Discipline, she could still retain her position as Bishop and the Church's Western Jurisdiction would handle the matter. The Judicial Council also ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to review her nomination, election, or assignment.
Married to Robin Ridenour, who is a deaconess in The United Methodist Church. The two met when they were volunteers at a Junior High Church Camp. They began dating in 1999 and were married in 2014.
Pastor, Bloomville UMC, Bloomville, NY 1983-1986
Campus Minister Ecumenical House Campus Ministry, San Francisco State 1989-1992
Pastor Bethany UMC, San Francisco 1992-2004
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs/Director of Contextual Education, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA 2004-2008
Adjunct Professor of United Methodist Studies at Pacific School of Religion, 2004-2016
Adjunct Professor, DMin program at Drew University, teaching "Prophetic Leadership in Congregation and Community" 2012
Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology, Brite Divinity School (TX), teaching "Evangelism in Methodist History and Practice", 2015
Senior Pastor. Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco. 2008-2016
Resident Bishop of the Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church, 2016–present
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