Bishop Oliveto inspires justice event
Bishop Karen Oliveto, recently elected bishop of the Western Jurisdiction and presiding bishop of the Mountain Sky Area, was the opening keynote speaker for the Western Methodist Justice Movement (WMJM) conference meeting in Portland, Oregon February 17-20.
The conference, “Rise Up! Uniting to Act for a More Just World”, continued for three days with participants learning about the intersections of diverse populations in justice seeking. For example, they explored how a world seeing justice for those oppressed by colonialism has elements in common with those seeking human rights and acceptance for LGBTQI communities. The intersections become apparent when the focus of messaging is on shared common values. Beth Zemsky provided training on intercultural organizational development, and WMJM leaders guided the participants into the formation of action teams that will continue to work on justice issues both inside and outside The United Methodist Church.
The Western Methodist Justice Movement was created out of a call to action at the 2012 Western Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church. After guiding the conference members through a process of identifying values and actions that the Western Jurisdiction of the church supported, Bishop Grant Hagiya told those in attendance that the jurisdiction, with no staff and a vast geographic region, was not capable of following up on the items identified. Therefore those present would need to seek ways to move the agenda forward. The WMJM formed to do that and has continued to work since then. Most work by action teams is done via teleconferencing and email. In 2015 they held a gathering at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe. The Portland gathering was the second conference and was supported by a grant from the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and the Collins Foundation. The grant provided over $15,000 in scholarship funds to allow for a diverse representation at the event and a high level of participation by ethnic persons from around the conference and jurisdiction.