Bishop blesses same-sex couples in their marriages

Bishop Melvin G. Talbert preaching at the 2013 Reconciling Ministries Network convocation at the Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Chevy Chase, MD. Photo by Sam Pinczuk

Chevy Chase, MD — Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and an outspoken advocate for full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church, offered a special blessing for the union of same-sex couples present at the Sunday, September 1, 2013 evening worship service of the Reconciling Ministries Network FaithQuake Convocation. Using the Declaration of Marriage from the marriage ceremony in The United Methodist Book of Worship, Talbert pronounced that those same-sex couples present who had given themselves to one another by solemn vows and the giving and receiving of hands and rings were married in name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. “Those whom God has joined, ” Talbert proclaimed, “let no one put asunder.”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline forbids clergy of all levels from “…conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions (Paragraph 2702.4 of the 2012 United Methodist Book of Discipline).”

Earlier in the service Bishop Talbert justified his continued advocacy and support of GLBTQ issues as part of a general call to biblical obedience. Drawing on Micah 6:8 (He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you:  to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. CEB) and the great commandment of Mark 12: 29-30, Talbert suggested that the full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church was consistent with the biblical witness, and challenged both lay and clergy persons to “do the right thing” in opposing the “unjust and immoral laws” in the United Methodist Book of Discipline that suggest homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and limit ministry by and with gay and lesbian persons.

“Biblical obedience,” Bishop Talbert told The United Methodist Reporter, “…is the willingness to follow the biblical call to do the right and just thing, which is not restricted by church laws that are immoral and evil in their exclusivity.”

When asked about how his actions were in conflict with the current provisions in the Book of Discipline, Talbert remarked that there was no person more committed to honoring the Book of Discipline than he, however he believed that there were many more positive expressions of inclusivity in the Discipline than those which were exclusionary in nature, thus leading to his stance. He stated that his position did not undermine his covenantal relationship with the United Methodist Church, and that his positions were thoroughly rooted in a Wesleyan theological framework.

Bishop Talbert acknowledged that some persons may have complaints of his actions at the convocation. “Our polity has a process by which persons can express their views and file complaints, said Bishop Talbert. “I anticipate that due process will be followed if such complaints are filed.”

In his remarks to the convocation, Bishop Talbert reported that he had received word that the College of Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction had unanimously supported his position for full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life of the church.

Bishop Talbert was elected to the episcopacy in 1980 and served the Seattle and San Francisco episcopal areas until his retirement in 2000. Prior to being elected bishop, Talbert was a leader in the civil rights movement, spending time in jail with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Talbert as also the General Secretary for the General Board of Discipleship between 1973 and 1980.

The video of Sunday evening’s worship service can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaGDV117XuE&feature=youtu.be

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16 Comments on "Bishop blesses same-sex couples in their marriages"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Mike
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1 year 6 months ago
Mr. Talbert (I refuse to call him bishop, or Rev. for obvious reasons) likes to call on people to Gospel Obedience, well according to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, starting at verse 4 we read: 4“Haven’t you read?” He answered. “He who created them from the beginning ‘made them male and female’5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19, TLV) Yeshua… Read more »
Ah So
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2 years 8 months ago
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Build Your House on the Rock 24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will… Read more »
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[…] Talbert’s actions are in violation of The Book of Discipline. The United Methodist Reporter notes that the Book of Discipline prohibits clergy from “conducting ceremonies which celebrate […]

halehawk
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halehawk
2 years 10 months ago

The silence of the Council of Bishops is deafening.

One more addition to my comment above,–my understanding is that we are due to write a new Book of Discipline that will reflect the reality that we are a GLOBAL church now–no longer US centered. GC2012 proved that our current polity is not working anymore; and our inability to deal effectively with violations of the Book of Discipline is another reason to enthusiastically take on that task.

dsnyder
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dsnyder
2 years 10 months ago

If, as some of us believe, the parts of the Book of Discipline that discriminate against lesbian and gay persons violate the constitution of the UMC, where is the forum to test this? During the trials I've attended, when anyone tried to bring up the constitution, the presiding bishop/judge said that the constitution was not relevant, just the facts of whether a specific paragraph of the BOD was violated. Where can the argument be heard about whether excluding gay and lesbian folk from full participation in the church violates Division 1, Article 4 of the UMC constitution?

Mike
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

IF you think this, than I inform you that you disagree with Scripture. Scripture is quite clear on the topic!

halehawk
Guest
halehawk
2 years 10 months ago
Another issue is whether this action CAN be dealt with. Two jurisdictions officially voted to IGNORE this part of the Book of Discipline. Bishop Talbert says that the Western Jurisdiction of the College of Bishops stands with him on this. So, where should a complaint be filed? The event occurred in Washington, DC, which is in the North East Jurisdiction–the second district that voted to ignore violations of this nature. I'm wondering if the Council On Bishops would bother to do anything (I don't think it is within their job description.) Could the Judicial Council deal with it? I'm not… Read more »
keithmcilwain
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keithmcilwain
2 years 10 months ago

I hope it doesn't come to that. My prayer is that Bishop Talbert & his friends who are also violating our covenant choose penitence & agree to once again abide by all of the vows they took to live under the authority of the Church via our Discipline. Their faithfulness can prevent a schism; their lack of faithfulness will trigger schism.

timcono
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timcono
2 years 10 months ago
Activism has driven most of this situation. Not religious belief. Those that violate our duly debated, voted on and approved Constitution should be brought up on charges for violating the constitution, not just a slim slice of a paragraph. The rest of society has capitulated to the LGBT, (anything goes) crowd, including their quiet endorsement of NAMBLA, (how does that fit with a safe sanctuaries policy?) It has been demonstrated that while they claim victory it is never good enough they will always remain the victims. I happen to believe we as a denomination will make this type of union… Read more »
keithmcilwain
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keithmcilwain
2 years 10 months ago

The issue here is NOT gay marriage or inclusion. All persons are already welcome in the Church, after all, regardless of where we do or do not agree with their lifestyle decisions, sexual or otherwise.

The issue here is: Did Bishop Talbert officiate or bless a same gender union or marriage? If so, he has violated the Discipline which he took a vow to uphold.

Advocating for change in the Church, however passionately one feels, does not grant the right to violate our covenant. This is why the Bishop's action is illegal at best, schismatic at worst.

bscarb1710
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bscarb1710
2 years 10 months ago

Apostasy! Can we take away his pension?

robinwa
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robinwa
2 years 10 months ago

Jesus died and was resurrected for "ALL" peoples so "ALL" peoples are welcome in the church. We must remember that excluding anyone is not what Jesus taught. The church cannot open doors in the world if the members inside keep them closed.

Thank you Bishop

halehawk
Guest
halehawk
2 years 10 months ago

No one is closing the doors of the church to sinners, robinwa. But when we actually BLESS and CELEBRATE sinful behavior we have crossed a line.

davidt
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davidt
2 years 10 months ago
Bishop Melvin Talbert represents disobedience to the vows he took at ordination as a pastor and when consecrated as a bishop. He promised to uphold the law of the Church. We can argue all day about interpretation and application of the relevant biblical passages. The short version is this: 1) From creation God made sex to be between a husband and wife. Period. 2) All biblical texts addressing issues of sexuality, Old Testament and New, look positively on sex within heterosexual marriage, and speak negatively on all expressions of sex outside of those bounds. To arrive at a "pro-homosexual sex"… Read more »
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