The Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church has a newly-elected Bishop in Reverend Dr. Karen Oliveto.  She begins her tenure as bishop of the region that includes Montana.  The 58-year-old Rev. Oliveto is the first openly gay UMC pastor to hold the leadership post in the second largest Christian denomination in the United States.

Her installation service will take place this Saturday at the Bozeman United Methodist Church.  Then, she will begin her first four-year term working with churches in Montana, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and a sliver of Idaho.  Those in the Western Jurisdictional Conference who elected her in July realize her election is a watershed moment for the UMC.

The more progressive faction of the denomination calls her election the culmination of a hard-fought battle to fully include the LGBTQ community in the future of the denomination.  Conservatives are disappointed, saying it violates the UMC’s governing policies.