Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert arrived in Birmingham Alabama on Friday to preside at the wedding of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince on Saturday, Oct. 26. It will be the first public marriage of a gay couple presided over by a United Methodist bishop.
"We as the church have the privilege of inviting people to come to God's table, but we do not say which ones can and which ones can't," Bishop Talbert told AL.com. "They are all created in the image of God. They all have a place at God's table. They should not be excluded."
Talbert agreed to officiate the wedding despite a request from North Alabama Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and other United Methodist bishops that he refrain from doing the ceremony, which is against United Methodist church law. The United Methodist Book of Discipline says that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching."
In response to requests from Wallace-Padgett and the executive committee of the United Methodist Council of Bishops not to do the service, Talbert has informed them he plans to go ahead with the service against their wishes.