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A Valentine’s Day Request from Alum Debra Peevey: Letters to Bishop Karen Oliveto, with Love

Dear Fellow PSR Alums,

My name is Debra Peevey (MDiv ’81), and I am writing today about a Pacific School of Religion (PSR) alum needing our support right now!

Debra Peevey
Karen Oliveto (MDiv ’83), now Bishop Karen Oliveto, served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs from 2004-2008, and Adjunct Professor of United Methodist Studies from 2004 to 2016. Your life may very well have been touched by her when you were a student at PSR. After serving as Senior Pastor at Glide Memorial Church for twelve years, she was elected Bishop last summer by the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, from a field of nine candidates.  She was ultimately elected by an 88-0-12 vote and is the denomination’s first openly lesbian bishop.

Within moments of her election a complaint was filed asking the United Methodist Judicial Council (the equivalent of the Supreme Court in the United Methodist Church) to rule on whether or not her election is legal under church law.  Right now these charges are being reviewed and a decision will be handed down in late April, which could include dismissal of the case.  This could impact not only Karen’s position as Bishop of the Mountain Sky Area but also her ordination.Bishop Oliveto is remarkably suited to be a bishop by temperament and training!  Her education includes a MDiv, a MPhil, and a PhD. She has served as a campus pastor, a local church pastor, on seminary faculties at PSR and Drew, and was the only woman in the UMC to serve one of their mega-churches as Glide’s pastor. One of her specialties is Methodist Polity.  PSR is proud to recognize her with a 2017 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award that will be presented at the Alumni/ae Banquet March 18.  I hope you’ll join me there in celebrating her achievements!

Bishop Oliveto needs our love and care today!  I’m asking for letters of support, affirmation, blessing.  We want the letters to be positive!  Please don’t argue UMC polity here.  This is a time to showcase the groundswell of support for Karen’s ministry and the joy and hope we feel as a direct result of her election.  Please share personal stories of your interactions with Karen, or if you don’t know her personally, write about why LGBTQ inclusion is important in today’s church.

Please use “Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church” as your letter’s salutation, but send the letters to me at so we may post some of them online before mailing them. If posted, they will join a national and public witness, so please let us know if you do not want your letter posted online.  Please see here for examples of letters. You may also join the lovefest on Facebook at #ToBishopKOwithLove!

Let us show that Pacific School of Religion and the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion stand up to be counted when it counts!

Debra Peevey