In The United Methodist Church (and other Christian denominations), it is difficult or impossible for lesbian, gay, transsexual, and bisexual clergy or laity to become a visible and outward channel for God’s saving grace. This book traces the history of the church’s struggle with homosexuality, highlighting critical incidents in the culture and church polity which shape the church’s response. The issues are deeply rooted in the way God’s people understand scriptures, which are interpreted as a means of grace for some and as a rule-book for others. This book includes first-person narratives of LGBTQ persons faithfully serving in a denomination that denies their calls and—in some cases—their presence. These stories will show how the coming out process is deeply spiritual as one grows into an authentic, God-created and graced self.
“You are the one who created my innermost parts;
you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.”
Psalm 139:13-14 (CEB)
“Our Strangely Warmed Hearts is a breath of fresh air in the study of the United Methodist struggle and intense debate regarding human sexuality. Karen Oliveto lives in faithful witness and serves people with the heart of Christian leadership."—Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“Karen Oliveto offers a compelling window into the steadfast faith and the resilience of the LGBTQ Christian movement in the United States. After offering an extraordinary history of the LGBTQ equality movement in our society and in The United Methodist Church, she rightly asks, 'Is there any other group that we would marginalize in this way?' I wholeheartedly recommend Karen Oliveto's new book to everyone who is affected by the debate over the sacred worth and place of LGBTQ people in our lives and churches. This book inspires hope.” —Michael J. Adee, Ph.D., Director, Global Faith and Justice Project, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA
“Bishop Oliveto's story mirrors the experience of many LGBTQ ministers who are serving the Body of Christ openly, and not in the shadows. The integrity, courage, and deep faith of God’s LGBTQ people who are called into ministry have enriched the church and encouraged the outsiders who were always welcome at Jesus' table.”–Andy Lang, Executive Director, Open and Affirming Coalition, United Church of Christ
“I loved it! It drew me in immediately and kept me strapped in on what I knew would be a roller coaster of painful history, sprinkled triumphs, and then stories that broke my heart, gave me cheer, and brought tears to my eyes. Bishop Oliveto takes readers on a fascinating trip through LGBTQ history, and into the often contentious collision with mainstream religion…and then brings it all together through the personal stories that make our past and present come alive! I applaud Bishop Oliveto’s book and will highly recommend it to the faithful and faith curious of all religions.”–The Reverend Marian Edmonds-Allen, Executive Director, Parity
"[Bishop Karen Oliveto] is sharing the love of Jesus, and meeting people where they are, no matter who they are, and no matter what they think about her. She loves them." —Kent Ingram, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.