Sandra Olewine

Ethnic Background: white

Conference: California Pacific

Probationary Date: 06/16/1985

Full Membership Date: 06/19/1988

Number of Eligible Quadrenniums: 1.5

BS – UC Davis, 1980
MDiv – Claremont School of Theology, 1986
ABD – Claremont School of Theology, 1995

Ministry Experience:
District Camp Counselor, Summers 1984-1988
Filipino Christmas Institute, Counselor and Co-dean, winter break 1983 – 1986
Pastor – FUMC Fontana, Feb 1986-Jan 1990
AC Youth UN / Washington DC planning and implementation team, 2 years
Design Team and Counselor – Strength for the Journey (HIV/AIDS) Camp
Rep to CalPAC Mission Emersion Trip to Africa -1986, Mission Interpreter for 2 years
Board of Ordained Ministry – 1987 – June 1994 (Registrar, 1991-94)
Design Team and Counselor – AC Youth Multi-Culture Camp, 1992-1995
Associate Pastor – Holman UMC, Feb 1990 – June 1995
Delegate to World Methodist Conference – Singapore 1991
UMCOR Coordinator LA Emergency Response to Civil Unrest following acquittal of police in Rodney King beating
Theologian in Residence, Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem, Sept 1995-April 1996
GBGM Liaison to Jerusalem – Sept 1996 – Feb 2006
Bethlehem Christmas Lutheran Church – associate pastor 2000-2006
Jurisdictional Conference Reserve Delegate, 2004
Pastor – The Neighborhood/La Vecindad – July 2006 – June 2011
Conference Leadership Team – July 2006 – June 2010
Co-Leader – District Rebuild Team, following Hurricane Katrina, 2 years
Pastor – Santee UMC, August 2011 – June 2014
General Conference/Jurisdictional Conference Delegate – 2016, 2019, 2020 (postponed)
Senior Pastor – FUMC Pasadena, July 2014-June 2021
GCFA Board Member – 2016 – current
District Superintendent – July 2021 – present

Community and Ecumenical Involvement:
Fontana We Care – founding Board member, Ecumenical Ministry for Unhoused Neighbors
Fontana Ministerial Association, 1986-1989, President 1988
Rabbi Wolf Young Religious Leaders Program – 1986 – 90; co-dean, 1990-1993
Interfaith Committee Against the Gulf War – 1990 – 1991
National Conference of Christians and Jews – 1993-1995
SCLC – End Violence Campaign – Taking Back Our Streets – 1992
World Council of Churches – End the Occupation Committee – 1998-2006
Long Beach Ministerial Association – 2006-2011
CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) – Local Leadership Team, 2007-2011
Long Beach Fair Housing Advocacy Committee – 2008-2011
South Coast Interfaith Council – Member 2006-2011, President 2010-2011
Santee Food Bank Board – member 2011-2014, President 2013
Methodist Hospital of Arcadia – Board Member – 2015-2022
CLUE Pasadena – Local Leadership Team – 2015-2017
Friends in Deed – Pasadena Interfaith Supportive Services for At-Risk Neighbors – Religious Leaders Advisory Board – 2016-2021
Habitat for Humanity – San Gabriel Valley Religious Leaders Advisory Board – 2016-2021

Other Relevant Experience:
Published numerous articles on Palestine and Israel Conflict in newspapers papers and religious magazines
wrote UWM Study Guide for Palestine/Israel Study
Numerous recognitions for peace with justice work in Palestine/Israel

Why are you being called to the episcopacy at this time? What is it that you especially bring to the role of bishop with the current challenges facing our denomination and the Western Jurisdiction right now?
Currently, the denomination exists in a liminal space, standing at a threshold of challenge, change, and possibility. While what will happen at General Conference 2024 is unknown, the next quadrennium will certainly still be a time of upheaval.

In such a season, bishops need to be spiritually grounded and theologically reflective. Bearing a non-anxious presence, clearly proclaiming the church is for all God’s people, and casting a life-giving vision is essential. They need to embody courageous and collaborative leadership in the church and with ecumenical, interfaith, and civic partners. The threats to the planet, the pernicious realities of colonialism, and the global rise of violent white supremacy demands that we unapologetically bear the Gospel’s liberating message of love for the whole of creation in active partnership with peoples of all faiths and none.

The diverse communities I have been privileged to serve have honed these qualities of leadership in my life and work. They have challenged, taught, and formed me to be the follower of Jesus I am today. With grace, they sharpened my awareness of my privilege, and at the same time, they invited me to walk alongside them. I have been convicted by their truths and humbled by their trust.

It is out of that conviction and in a spirit of humility, I feel called to offer my gifts and experience in this particular moment of time as an episcopal leader. Serving for just under six years, I see myself as a transitional bishop, seeing us through the next season of denominational transformation. I am unafraid to speak challenging words or to engage in prophetic action. I can help establish cooperative administration and collaborative leadership at all levels across the Jurisdiction.

Most importantly, though, this call to the episcopacy feels very specific in my life as a call to serve the people of CalPac. I know this isn’t how we do things usually, but we are not living in usual times. Strategic leadership deployment is critical. I know the context and have a breadth of relationships in the church and the broader community. I have earned trust in many communities and my commitment to collaboration is well known. I am aware of the obstacles before us and am working with leaders to address them. My serving CalPac would allow the momentum on the good work begun to continue without missing a beat, strengthening the Conference. And strong Annual Conferences will lead to a strong Jurisdiction.

This may feel presumptuous of me and I believe we are called to risk unusual choices. So, I offer my calling as a possible episcopal leader for CalPac to the Jurisdiction for your discernment.

Describe how the last two years have affected your ministry.
At first, this question made me laugh – a bit hysterically. Just considering how I would capture the impact of the twin pandemics of COVID and racism on my ministry these last few years brought tears to my eyes and a chill to my bones. What wasn’t changed?

Yet, as I took some deep breaths to center my thoughts, I recalled a favorite poem by Mary Oliver, The Messenger. Throughout, she repeats a line, “my work is loving the world.” Yes, everything changed, and at the same time, something, the core of my life, remained the same.

“Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work.

the work of loving the world.

Holding the poem and these years in relationship with each other in a common reflection, brought forth my answer.

So much has changed
so many challenges

COVID, lockdown, death
so much death.
Adapting on the run
online Church – internet failures
How do we do communion?
Memorial services on Zoom
Feelings of inadequacy well up again and again.

Yet… the call remains the same
My work is loving the world.

Murder – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor
Say their names,
too many names.
Disappeared indigenous women
whose names are never said.
Conspiracy theories and zealots for lies
Insurrection; threats to democracy
white supremacy blatant, violent, destructive,
Warp and weft of a nation revealed,
again and again.

Yet the call remains the same
My work is loving the world.

Push to return to normal
But what is normal?
Is change the new normal?
Where is church? What is church?
Is it in Dog parks, bars, backyards
Virtual reality and tattoo parlors?
What about pews?
Where are the people who sat in the pews?
Will they come back?
Who? the people never here before?
Did church and faith become irrelevant?
Or is how we do church irrelevant?

Yet the call remains the same
My work is loving the world.
Our work is loving the world.

lots and lots of questions,
not enough answers.
Can we live with no quick answers?
Can we listen

to the wailing, the sorrow, the wrestling, the exploring
the creating, the emerging, the longing, the singing
the hope?

Letting the questions continue to come
as answers remain unformed.

… the call is still the same
Our call is loving the world.

Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work
The work of loving the world.
Our work of loving the world.

It is still the same.

Endorser: Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr.

Relationship to Candidate: pastor, mentor, colleague, friend

It is a hushed and anxious moment when called upon to write a recommendation to affirm a nomination for Bishop of the Reverend Sandy Olewine. Our shared ministry goes back to the early 1990’s. She was an associate pastor at Holman United Methodist Church, a large and prestigious black congregation in central Los Angeles where I was pastor for 25 years.

Sandy is an elder with a deep eternal call to live and work in the spirit of the only invitation Jesus offers, “follow me”. She has applied effectively all the powers of life in response to that invitation, becoming an effective minister formed and shaped by the religion of Jesus. She demonstrates great capacities to effectively strategize and execute ministries in multiple ways.

I was her pastor and spent time working with her as both a colleague and friend. She has unexpected potential for serving the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven! I have complete confidence in affirming her as a superb bishop of the United Methodist Church.


J.M. Lawson, Jr.
Emeritus Pastor
Holman United Methodist Church

Endorser: Salam Al-Marayati

Relationship to Candidate: colleague in interfaith peace with justice work

I have the privilege and honor to endorse the nomination of Reverend Sandra Olewine to Bishop of the Western Jurisdiction to the United Methodist Church. Rev. Olewine has given a voice to those of us who have been marginalized, stigmatized, and excluded from mainstream discourse.

I met Rev. Olewine through our collaborative effort to oppose the first Gulf war in 1991. She learned from one of the greatest leaders in non-violent resistance, Rev. Jim Lawson. She went on to serve as a liaison for Palestine and Israel for 11 years, where she developed her expertise on one of the most formidable issues related to peacemaking, religious freedom, and human rights. Her resume of accomplishments abounds with peace and justice work.

From all her body of work and learning through action, Rev. Olewine opened a sacred space in her church for Muslims to pray at our weekly Friday congregational service. She reminded me of the verse in the Quran: Those who believe (in this Prophet), and those who follow the Jewish faith and the Christians…anyone who believes in God and the last day and does good, will have their reward from their Lord and will have nothing to fear and will not grieve. 2:62.

I find a safe space in the United Methodist Church because of the leadership and vision for peace of Rev. Sandra Olewine, and for that, I am grateful to our Creator.

Salam Al-Marayati
President, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Endorser: Rev. Jonathan Chute and Ms. Erin Hawkins

Relationship to Candidate: colleagues and friends in Conference ministry

We eagerly support consideration of Sandy Olewine’s election to the Episcopacy in The United Methodist Church. She is a theologically and pastorally grounded member of our connection who has served effectively at all levels of the church and in the wider community.

Sandy has indicated that her willingness to serve in the office of Bishop is contingent on her being able to serve in the California Pacific-Annual Conference where she is currently a member. We recognize that this is unusual. As the Chair of the Connectional Table and Executive Director of Connectional Ministries for Cal-Pac, we see great value in the possibility of welcoming Sandy as our Bishop. Cal-Pac is at an inflection point, with great promise and great challenges. We need a Bishop with the capacity to act swiftly while bringing a non-anxious presence to leadership. These are qualities Sandy is well known for. As a trusted leader, her commitment to justice and equity, her ecumenical and interfaith relationships, and her capacity for bridge building across lines of difference is unquestioned. Sandy is known to be passionate, compassionate, capable, and caring. She is not afraid to speak honestly when the truth needs to be told. She also listens and responds to the needs and hopes of others when they disagree. Sandy is a collaborative team player and would bring that spirit to jurisdictional and general church tables.

In this time of transition, we give thanks that she is willing to help us move forward.

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