By Michael Doan
A Washington, D.C., United Methodist church that has supported gay and lesbian rights for 27 years urged the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops today to dismiss complaints against a retired bishop who performed a same-sex wedding in Alabama.
The congregation of Dumbarton United Methodist Church urged the denomination’s Council of Bishops to rescind charges against Retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, the highest ranking clergyperson alleged to have broken the church’s ban on such ceremonies. The denomination could hold a trial that could remove the bishop’s clergy credentials.
In expressing its opposition to such trials, the church council said that Dumbarton makes its sanctuary available for same-sex weddings and listed seven clergy members who have conducted such ceremonies.
“For too long, our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers have been marginalized and excluded from marriage rites, ordination, and ministry opportunities,” said the document approved by the council and signed by members of the congregation at the end of a worship service.
“Now is the time to stand with Bishop Talbert….and others… who have claimed Biblical and ecclesial authority to move our denomination forward in embracing the gospel call to full inclusion of all of God’s beloved children,” the letter said. The congregation is also backing other bishops who have been criticized for supporting clergy conducting same-gendered weddings and other clergy who have gone on trial.
The statement asked the bishops: “This is the moment to stand on the side of inclusion and justice for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Will you join us?”
In 1987, Dumbarton officially welcomed the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in its congregation. In February 2010, the church officially committed itself to support marriage equality, the first United Methodist congregation in Washington to do so.