DENVER (KCNC) — It is Pride month, and we are celebrating at CBS News Colorado. That includes highlighting people blazing trails in the LGBTQ community, like Bishop Karen Oliveto. She’s the first openly gay bishop in the United Methodist Church.
CBS News Colorado’s Mekialaya White got the opportunity to talk with her on Wednesday about her journey. Oliveto told White she’s thankful to share her inspiring story this month and always.
“By the grace of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit,” she began. “In 2016, I was elected unanimously on the 17th ballot for the Mountain Sky Conference, which covers Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and one church in Idaho. I had my call to ministry when I was 11. I became a pastor at a very early age. I had gone to college and to seminary.”
And she’s proud of her journey. “I believe the coming out process is an incredibly spiritual process. People would say, ‘Oh, I have a question: What is it like to be the first queer bishop?’ And I’d say, ‘I’m not.’ And they’d gasp. No, I’m the first openly LGBTQ Bishop.”
Oliveto says she’s faced division in the church in recent years. “So, there’s a whole segment of the church that’s leaving because they don’t want to be an inclusive church. They’re building a church based on who they’re leaving out. And you have to wonder: If you’re building a church on how you are leaving out, are you letting Jesus in??
She says, as a result, she’s seen people grow and know who’s in their family of faith.
“As I bring my full self into spaces, it invites others, no matter who they are, to be more authentic. To have people who are powerful role models can change everything.”
She and her wife Robin Ridenour are on a mission to show up in a compassionate way for others. “When we show up, we’re the only people who look like us. And people have said, ‘I thought I knew where I stood. But I see the two the love you share the grace in which you walk in the world, and I realized I was wrong.'”
“God loves you and so do we,” Oliveto said with a smile. “I think it’s an incredible opportunity for the queer community to celebrate itself. To show others there is a community waiting to support you in your journey.”
Learn more about Bishop Oliveto here: unitedmethodistbishops.org/person-detail/2463386
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