Bishop Talbert performs Alabama wedding for two men

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

talbert weddingCENTER POINT, Ala. (UMNS)—At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, the doors shut out the disagreements about church law as United Methodists Joe Openshaw & Bobby Prince vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives in a wedding ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

Before the wedding. television cameras from several news stations rolled outside Covenant Community United Church of Christ. The two men and Bishop Talbert faced questions about why, and what it would mean for them to disregard their denomination’s stance that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching and that ordained clergy are forbidden to perform a same-sex marriage.

For Openshaw and Prince, the answer to why was simple. They love each other, they said.

For Talbert, the answer to why and what lies ahead is more complicated.
“On May 4, 2012 (during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference), I declared that the church’s official position is wrong and evil …it no longer calls for our obedience.”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, since 1972 has proclaimed the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The book prohibits United Methodist churches from hosting and clergy from performing “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” For more from the UMC Connections:

http://umcconnections.org/2013/10/26/bishop-talbert-performs-alabama-wedding-two-men/

 

Bishops urge Bishop Talbert not to officiate at same-sex union

The executive committee of the United Methodist Council of Bishops issued a statement on Oct. 23, in response to retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert’s plans to officiate at the marriage ceremony of Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw  on Oct. 26 in Birmingham, Ala. http://umcconnections.org/2013/10/23/bishops-urge-bishop-talbert-officiate-sex-union/

The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline. “Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” are chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church. (¶2702.1.b) The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has urged Bishop Melvin Talbert not to perform the same-gender marriage in Birmingham, Alabama. Furthermore, the Resident Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has requested him not to come to the Birmingham Area for this purpose.

The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline. “Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” are chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church. (¶2702.1.b) The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has urged Bishop Melvin Talbert not to perform the same-gender marriage in Birmingham, Alabama. Furthermore, the Resident Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has requested him not to come to the Birmingham Area for this purpose.

 

Bishop Swenson writes dissent on Council Birmingham statement

http://www.rmnblog.org/2013/10/bishop-mary-ann-swenson-writes-dissent-on-council-birmingham-statement.html

“The time has come for acts of faith and courage. I support Bishop Talbert in his willingness to officiate a service of Christian marriage for Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw, two faithful men whose story I personally have heard and whose deep love for each other I have witnessed. Until we can revise the discriminatory language of The Book of Discipline, I encourage my colleague bishops to follow the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to ignore these unjust laws of our Discipline, and to permit United Methodist clergy who find it in their consciences and in their duties to fulfill the pastoral needs of those in their flock to celebrate ceremonies of Christian marriage for same-gender couples to do so. We all have the power to do the right thing.

Scripture tells us that if we belong to Christ, we are heirs to the promises of God. Christ has set us free. Let us not continue to imprison our LGBTQ family and friends with shackles of unjust laws that counter the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Grace and peace, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops

MFSA Board of Directors Responds to Bishops’ Statement
Regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert: ‘This Causes Spiritual Carnage’

ATLANTA – October 25, 2013 – The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) applauds Bishop Melvin Talbert in providing pastoral care in blessing the loving relationship of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince, two children of God, and acknowledging the love of Christ present in their marriage. We are deeply disappointed by the statement from the executive committee of the Council of Bishops which refuses to acknowledge God’s presence, beautifully expressed in the joyous experience of two people finding love and inviting their faith community into that celebration.

In their statement, our Episcopal leaders reference their charge to “promote the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church,” but send the message that certain people are incompatible with Christian teaching and reduces the celebration of their love to a chargeable offense which injures our LGBT fellow members. This causes spiritual carnage. Such actions damage relationships with God and turn God’s children away from the Church. Further, the discrimination inherent in The UMC’s policies relating to LGBT persons is then used to provide cover for hate. The expression of this hate leads to broken relationships with family and with God, to broken lives, and too often even to broken bodies. In clinging to our current policies, The UMC turns the Book of Discipline into a weapon of harm and is complicit in this violence.

For full statement, go to http://mfsaweb.org/?p=7636.

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