Recently Read: Stretching, Not Tearing

IMG_7434by Nathan Mattox

I just finished meeting with Bishop Karen Oliveto, a woman whose name you have possibly seen lately in the news. Some believe her election, in the words of our Bishop, Robert Hayes, who wrote to us this week, “tears at the covenant that connects us as one united church.” The fact that Bishop Oliveto is a woman legally married to another woman is, in the minds of some, a disqualification for an office that the Spirit-guided Western Jurisdictional Conference July 15th felt God calling them to do: elect an incredibly gifted woman as Bishop. (a vote, unlike any other in the denomination, was unanimously cast for her to become a Bishop).

I don’t think I’d use the words “tears at the covenant” if I were describing this election, though. Especially after meeting with her. I would say it stretches the covenant that connects us as one united church. I’d say “stretching” is a good thing. Stretching a fabric allows for more growth—tearing renders a garment useless. Bishop Oliveto’s leadership in the Mountain Sky Area (headquartered in Denver and covering the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Conferences in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and a section of Idaho) will allow for growth. She has proven that she has the gift of helping churches find their relevance in places where the church is considered suspect, dead, or irrelevant at best. Glide Memorial United Methodist Church has 11,000 members in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. This context is not “friendly confines” for churches—people don’t just naturally “flock to church” because it’s what their mom told them to do. This church is jam-packed every single Sunday with a congregation that is ethnically diverse, young, and fully embracing of all the varied communities of people who are marginalized by society. The church feeds 800,000 a year in a program I volunteered in all week that offers three meals a day to people coming in off the street. It is a true beacon of light in the darkness.

Read the rest on Nathan’s blog The Pastor’s Perspective.

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Rev. Nathan Mattox is a graduate of Hendrix College. He went to seminary at Claremont School of Theology in the Los Angeles metro area, and while in his first year of seminary he worked as an assistant at the UCLA Wesley foundation, which he sought out because he had a deep interest and passion for doing ministry in the context of a university campus. After seminary, he served the United Methodist Church in Waldron, AR for only a year before being appointed to serve the United Methodist Church in Morris, and served there for five years, during which time he was ordained as an Elder in 2008. As of June 2011, he is swashbuckling as the pastor of the University United Methodist Church, situated in the wilds of the University of Tulsa.

Rev. Mattox can be reached at nmattox@uumctulsa.org

Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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9 Comments on "Recently Read: Stretching, Not Tearing"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Kevin
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I guess we will see more of these apologist articles in support of Ms. Oliveto.

Nathan Mattox
Guest

I hope so. She deserves to have her story told and folks to be aware of the kind of leadership she brings to the table–because, unfortunately, all some people will judge her by is the fact that she’s a lesbian. “By their fruit you shall know them.”

Sandy Wylie
Guest

Good word, Nathan. As I said earlier, I pray that Bishop Oliveto will be a wise and caring leader. That’s what we all want and need. Her performance as a pastor has been outstanding and has made her a good and natural choice for bishop. Say hello to the good folks at University UMC. (I preceded Nathan in that pulpit.)

Daniel Wagle
Guest

If you read Matthew 25:31-46, people are judged NOT on their Sexual Orientation or even their religious orthodoxy or adherence to a clearly defined dogma, but rather on whether they fed the hungry and clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, cared for the sick as well as clothing the naked. It seems like Oliveto passes this test with flying colors. This Matthean passage is about hospitality as well and some people are not being that hospitable to a very gifted Bishop.

james
Guest

Claremont is one of the most liberal seminaries that are approved by the umc……………………

Nathan Mattox
Guest

I hear that all the time, but what does it even mean, and how can you possibly know? A seminary education is the combination of teachers’ strengths, weaknesses, and biases and what students bring to the classroom, along with an administration’s overarching vision. Are you some kind of objective seminary critique professional?

james
Guest
No “seminary critique professional” here. Just belong to a small congregation that has been blessed with 4 pastors who were Asbury guys. Pew sitters actually have very little to say as to who the hierarchy will send to a church and are pretty much “glued” to the BOD. From pastors on up: most of those folks handle the BOD like the want-ad section in your local newspaper–take what you want and discount the rest. It is a very sad commentary. Schism has already happened–the council of bishops just needs to get on with it. But, they are still wearing their… Read more »
jimmie shelby
Guest

Perhaps you are amongst the clergy who think that laity should be seen and not heard–just so long as they keep the coffers full and hands folded……..

Nathan Mattox
Guest

No I’m not, and if you notice, i was engaging the commentor in conversation.

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