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The Tennesseean profiles Bishop Melvin Talbert

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2013

Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert is one of a number of United Methodist Ministers who are not only speaking out for equality, but defying their denomination to do so. (The Tennesseean)

Despite warnings from his denomination that he’d be violating the faith’s Book of Discipline, Bishop Melvin Talbert traveled from Nashville to near Birmingham, Ala., to perform the Oct. 26 wedding of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince. They were legally married Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C., but wanted a church wedding.

Talbert sees his involvement as an act of civil disobedience for a moral cause, and if you want to disagree, you’d better have some pretty big boots.

He volunteered to perform same-sex weddings and urged fellow clergy to do the same. He likens his work to the nation’s civil rights movement, a comparison he doesn’t make lightly. Talbert, now 79, shared an Atlanta jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. in October 1960 after being arrested at an Atlanta lunch counter sit-in.

Talbert was one of the student organizers who invited King to join their protest. He spent three days and nights in the cell with King, which molded the direction of his life.

See also the Huntsville Times



November 6th, 2013 | LINK

Um, the current link to The Tennesseean is not a link to The Tennesseean….

Timothy Kincaid
November 6th, 2013 | LINK

My apologies. The link has been fixed.

Regan DuCasse
November 6th, 2013 | LINK

Well, at least HE can say in all honesty he was a Christian that was persecuted and jailed once upon a time.
But even then, not because he was a Christian, but because he was a black man and Christian fighting for the equal treatment of those who had been treated with injustice.
And he’s doing it again.

November 7th, 2013 | LINK

Bishop Talbert is a man of great courage and consistency in working for justice and equality. His stature will put United Methodist officials in an awkward position. Which is where they should be.

Technically, though, he performed a blessing of a civil marriage as the couple was already married in a civil ceremony. And I don’t know what the UMC Book of Discipline says about such a blessing.

November 7th, 2013 | LINK

The linked article is well-written and covers the topic well.

I am obligated as a minister in the United Church of Christ to note that the UCC has supported marriage equality since 2005, when it was legal only in MA. A 1997 position taken by the UCC is also supportive of marriage equality, although not as clearly as the 2005 position. That is nearly always omitted from these stories.

November 7th, 2013 | LINK

For those interested in the increasingly anti-gay rules of the UMC, Rev. Jimmy Creech weaves a sad and lovely tale of his struggle against the rising power of the conservatives in the denomination. It was particularly disappointing to read how the denomination stripped from ministers and congregations the right to act according to their consciences. For Creech and others like them, the UMC forced them to choose between following church rules or fully meeting the needs of all parishioners. Here’s a link to the book for those who are interested:

Steven Webster
November 7th, 2013 | LINK

In answer to the person who questioned whether the United Methodist Book of Discipline would allow a blessing of a same-sex couple that is not an actual marriage–the answer is that the Discipline’s prohibition is very broadly worded to forbid any kind of blessing, ceremony or marriage of a same-sex couple. Talbert has put himself in very serious trouble for doing the right thing! The United Methodist Church’s ugliness will be on full display when the Church Trial Court convenes to hear the evidence and pass judgement.

November 7th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks, Steven Webster, for the info on the UMC Book of Discipline. I reiterate: his stature will put the UMC’s leadership in an awkward position. He knew what he was doing.

In 2008, the UMC pastor in my California town presided at two same-sex weddings. He was a friend, told me he knew what he was doing, received a two-week suspension with pay, the lightest punishment he could get. He retired the following year. I think Bishop Talbert is in for a bumpy ride.

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