Retired Methodist Bishop Melvin G. Talbert officiated the marriage of two Birmingham, Alabama men in love on October 25, 2013, defying church rules forbidding clergy from supporting marriage equality. Bishop Talbert is the highest ranking clergy member to take a stand within the Methodist church to stand for marriage equality. Soon after the wedding ceremony complaints were filed by the local Bishop and the Council of Bishops.
According to a statement from the Council of Bishops on Thursday (March 13), Talbert “has violated the sacred trust of his office.” Reached at his Nashville home, Talbert, 79, said church policy requires him to remain silent about the disciplinary process. But he said he was “delighted” that the New York Annual Conference announced Monday (March 10) that it had averted a trial for the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who presided at the marriage of his son to another man.
“I hope this is a way forward,” Talbert said. “This matter will not be resolved until those discriminatory passages are removed from the Book of Discipline.”
Church law calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The denomination bans clergy from performing and churches from hosting “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” The church’s disciplinary process could lead to a trial and the loss of Talbert’s clergy credentials. Several other United Methodist clergy face possible trials, as the denomination grows increasingly polarized over church law over ministry to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
We are hearing more and more stories of brave clergy members standing on the side of justice and equality for the LGBT community. Their actions speak volumes of the growing support of marriage equality within our houses of worship.
Religion News Service has more on the story.
We will be hearing more about Bishop Talbert's loving actions and his possible church trial and GLAAD will keep you up to date.