UMC places outspoken liberal bishop on leave after 2 complaints are filed against her

Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the San Francisco Episcopal Area preaching a sermon in 2015.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the San Francisco Episcopal Area preaching a sermon in 2015. | Screengrab: YouTube/The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry

A prominent United Methodist Church bishop known for her outspoken theologically progressive stances has been placed on leave after two complaints were filed against her.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the San Francisco Episcopal Area was placed on leave from her episcopal duties after the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops received the complaints.

According to an announcement by UMC Western Jurisdiction leadership released on Wednesday, retired Bishop Sally Dyck, formerly of the Chicago area, will serve as interim bishop for the time being.

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“Under church law, complaints regarding bishops are submitted to the president of the College of Bishops in the appropriate jurisdiction,” explained the announcement.

“A bishop may be suspended for a period not to exceed 60 days when deemed appropriate and shall receive full pay and benefits during that time while the allegations are under review.”

Bishop Karen Oliveto, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, has appointed a special committee to investigate the complaints, the details of which are private.

Oliveto garnered headlines in 2017 when her election as bishop was declared illegitimate by the United Methodist Judicial Council due to her being married to a woman, which violates the UMC Book of Discipline.

According to her biographical information on the UMC California-Nevada Conference’s website, Carcaño has served on a host of UMC General Conference leadership positions.

These include the Connectional Process Team, the Study Committee on the Relationship of The UMC with the Autonomous Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters, the Commission on the General Conference, and the United Methodist Immigration Task Force.

“She is a recognized immigrant rights advocate … [and] has published articles on the rights of migrants in the Huffington Post and The Hill and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security,” noted the California-Nevada Conference.

“Carcaño has also long been an advocate for the full rights and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons joining her efforts to the work of such organizations as the Human Rights Campaign.”

Carcaño has been a vocal critic of the UMC's official stance against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, having advocated for a change in the Book of Discipline on the issue. 

In 2014, when UMC Pastor Frank Schaefer of Pennsylvania had his clergy credentials reinstated after being defrocked for officiating his son’s same-sex wedding, Carcaño gave him a position leading a student ministry in California.

"Rev. Schaefer will be responsible for leading the administrative work of this congregation and reaching out to the large college community that lives, studies, and works at the doorsteps of this church," stated Carcaño back in 2014. 

"Schaefer has much to teach us about what it means to love the children God gives us who happen to be gay. I pray that we will make space for him and his family in our lives and in our hearts as he comes to labor among us," she added. 

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