MFSA issues statement on Council of Bishops decison

MFSA_sqWASHINGTON, D.C. — The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), an independent organization of United Methodists focused on peace and justice ministries, issued a statement today critical of the decision issued by the United Methodist Council of Bishops (COB) earlier today requesting that a complaint be filed against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert for his presiding at a worship service celebrating the union of two gay men.

The COB “respectfully requested” that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the COB, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama area file a complaint with the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops “under the provisions of  Paragraph 413 for undermining the ministry of a colleague (Paragraph 2702.1f) and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple (Paragraph 2702.1b) within the bounds of the North Alabama Conference.” Talbert’s ministry as a bishop was conducted in the Western Jurisdiction and according to church law any complaints regarding misconduct are to be filed in the ministerial “residence” of the accused. The Western Jurisdiction is on record as supporting Talbert’s “Biblical Obedience” initiative.

“The idea of forcing a region of the Church so deeply committed to inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities to file charges against Bishop Talbert is preposterous,” said Chett Pritchett, Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. “In essence, the Council of Bishops has begun to cannibalize themselves, rendering their leadership questionable, harmful, and life-less… This is spiritual carnage, not just to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, but to the Bishops themselves and the entire United Methodist Church.”

The full text of the MFSA statement is included below:

United Methodist Council of Bishops Statement is ‘Questionable, Harmful, and Life-less’

WASHINGTON, DC – November 15, 2013 – The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops has spoken. They wish to charge one of their own for being obedient to scripture and the vows he took at baptism, confirmation, ordination, and at his consecration as a bishop.

In a statement read this morning by Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. of the Oklahoma Episcopal Area, the Council of Bishops requested that Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference file a complaint regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert’s action, for “undermining the ministry of a colleague and conducting a ceremony to celebrate the marriage of a same gender couple.”  Talbert officiated at the blessing of marriage of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince in Birmingham, Alabama in late October. The ceremony did not take place in a United Methodist Church, but many United Methodist clergy and laity were present to celebrate the marriage of the couple. In doing so, Bishop Talbert provided pastoral care to a couple with whom he was acquainted by celebrating the love of God present in their relationship.  Such pastoral care was an extension of Bishop Talbert’s obedience to Scripture and the covenants he previously affirmed.

The Council of Bishops has asked that the complaint be filed in Bishop Talbert’s home area, the Western Jurisdiction.  But in July 2012, the Western Jurisdictional Conference went on record stating they support the concept of Biblical Obedience:  “We commend to our bishops, clergy, local churches and ministry settings, the challenge to operate as if the statement in Para. 161F (“homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”) does not exist, creating a church where all people are truly welcome.”

“The Council of Bishops statement raises some very important questions,” states Rev. Steve Clunn, Love Your Neighbor Coalition Coordinator. “How did Bishop Talbert undermine the authority of Bishop Wallace-Padgett? Did she engage in acts of pastoral care to Openshaw and Prince? Was the Bishop allowing clergy under her care to extend acts of grace and compassion to longtime church members? Or, is the complaint only about Bishop Talbert not heeding a request to ignore the pastoral care of members within the bounds of the region in which Bishop Wallace-Padgett presides?”

“The idea of forcing a region of the Church so deeply committed to inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities to file charges against Bishop Talbert is preposterous. In essence, the Council of Bishops has begun to cannibalize themselves, rendering their leadership questionable, harmful, and life-less,” states Chett Pritchett, Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. “This is spiritual carnage, not just to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, but to the Bishops themselves and the entire United Methodist Church.”

The Council also voted to initiate a task force to lead conversations about human sexuality, race and gender in a global perspective. “While this initiation is laudable, I wonder if the Council has forgotten that the 1988 General Conference commissioned a task force to study human sexuality – a task force which recommended the phrase ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’ be removed from our Social Principles,” Pritchett states. “The time for study has passed. It’s time for our Bishops to be prophetic!”

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

 

UMReporter Staff

This story was posted by a staff member of The United Methodist Reporter. For over 160 years The United Methodist Reporter has been helping the people called Methodist to tell their stories. If you have stories that you think need to be told, please let us know at editor@circuitwritermedia.com

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9 Comments on "MFSA issues statement on Council of Bishops decison"

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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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Lovie H. Ispeople
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I believe there are to many people who interpret the Bible to suit their lifestyle. If the Bible states that adultery is a sin we then cannot permit it in the church just because a person (or persons/group) want to lead an adulterous life and have us accept their lifestyle. So too it applies to the gay lifestyle. The Bible is very clear in stating that homosexuality is a sin. We cannot accept the gay lifestyle because the Bible is very clear that it is a sin. To deny that is to deny the words contained in the Scriptures. Now… Read more »
Jeff Spaulding
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Melvin Talbert is no prophet. He broke faith with the clergy and Bishops, and his covenant with all United Methodists, and wishes to recreate the UMC in his own image. His actions clearly violated his vows as a United Methodist Elder and Bishop. As such, he should act with integrity, leave the UMC, and form a church in his own likeness. Then he can have a church with rules he writes and believe whatever he wishes. The anarchy he is leading in our Church needs to go away.

Richard Glodo
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Wow ! Prophets often say to people things that hit close to home and strike nerves ! Remember, things done in darkness WILL COME TO LIGHT. These vitriolic, self righteous rantings make me think this is the case in so many lives.

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[…] provided on both sides of the theological spectrum (For progressives, check the responses from Methodist Foundation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network; for conservatives, check out the response from Good News) that […]

bill krill
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Apparently, God speaks only through CERTAIN people. And, apparently, the rule of love is not REALLY a primary commandment. Let's get all Leviticus and bring back slavery and sell women as wives for a few goats…you can't be fundamental about just SOME things…any posters here have a tattoo? Guess you will burn in hell next to the homosexuals. None so blind…

Richard Glodo
Guest

Amen, Bill !

Richard Glodo
Guest

So God doesn't speak through his people anymore ? I believe God is still speaking through God's servants here on earth. Just because you don't like what is happening doesn't make you the righteous one.

Richard Glodo
Guest

As I remarked on another site this morning, I believe Bishop Talbert is a Prophet. It is a shame the COB does not recognize a Prophet in its midst. They may very well oust him from their "kingdom" So be it. The Kingdom of God will always rejoice and celebrate his voice, love, ministry and witness.

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