March 31, 2017
Dear Brothers, Sisters, and Siblings in Christ:
We write with an important request. As the United Methodist Judicial Council gathers to consider a question related to last July’s election of our Bishop Karen Oliveto, we ask you to join in a Mountain Sky Area prayer vigil between April 23 and 30.
Bishop Oliveto’s election was a momentous movement of the Holy Spirit. Eighty-eight delegates from across the Jurisdiction discerned she was the best of nine diverse and uniquely qualified candidates for the episcopacy.
The Western Jurisdiction’s election of the church’s first openly lesbian bishop has created a sense of uncertainty for some people across our United Methodist Connection.
The apostle Paul addresses such feelings in his letter to the emerging early church at Phillipi, writing in the fourth chapter, “don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” (Common English Bible)
It is with this attitude of prayer that the jurisdiction’s delegates undertook the election of Bishop Karen. We are entering into this period of prayer in late April with the same perspective: – God hears us, loves us, and heals our wounds.
Western Jurisdiction delegates believe something sacred took place in Scottsdale, Ariz., as they responded to the movement of the Holy Spirit and elected Bishop Karen. They understand the burden of their decision within the church they love, and pray for God to lead us into a unity that includes all of our Lord’s children
The core questions before the Council focus on the actions of the delegates and the bishops that laid hands on Bishop Karen to consecrate her. The Western Jurisdiction’s response, grounded in church law and precedence, strongly affirms the vote and the bishop’s consecration.
Since coming to the Mountain Sky Area in September, it is clear that Bishop Karen is the right leader for us. Her leadership style and Christ-focused vision for the Area have led us into a deeper commitment to live into Beloved Community and have had a noticeable impact on the vitality of many congregations.
As communities of believers we can be part of a prayer vigil spanning the entirety of the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area. Starting at 12 a.m. on April 23 and running all the way until 9 a.m. on April 30, we are asking you to volunteer to hold all those involved in the Judicial Council’s April meeting in prayer for an hour.
To sign up for a one-hour time slot, please follow this link to the shared Google Sheet and enter your name(s) and congregation.
If you have questions, please contact Youngsook Kang at Youngsook@rmcumc.com.
Suggested Templates For Praying
Here is a Prayer Template for you to consider. Feel free to adapt it for your local congregation or group. You can adjust times within the hour, and the order of your prayers in time slot.
- 5 minutes of centering prayer and opening to the movement of the Spirit.
- 15 minutes of prayer for the persons directly involved in the proceedings, the Judicial Council members, those representing the South Central Jurisdiction that filed the case, those representing the Western Jurisdiction, including the College of Bishops and its counsels, and Bishop Karen Oliveto and her spouse, Robin Ridenour.
- 15 minutes of prayer for those who will be immediately affected by whatever decision comes from the Judicial Council.
- 15 minutes of prayer for the people and churches of the Mountain Sky Area and the Western Jurisdiction as we work to discern how we will move forward, no matter what the decision may be.
- 10 minutes of prayers of thanksgiving for the work God has done and continues to do in The United Methodist Church as we seek a place of unity.