NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)—Two bishops of The United Methodist Church, one retired and one newly elected, are following their beliefs about same-sex unions. One agrees with the denomination’s stand on same-sex unions and one does not.
Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert has agreed to officiate at the Oct. 26 wedding of two men in Birmingham, Ala. Talbert says he was invited by the couple to officiate and his agreement is “a 40-year story which led to this moment in time.”
Since 1972, The United Methodist Book of Discipline has stated that all people are of sacred worth but “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
“When our 2012 General Conference failed to do the right thing by removing such derogatory and hurtful language from our Book of Discipline, I was moved by the Spirit to speak a word of hope to our LGBTQ sisters and brothers at every level of the life of our church and society,” Talbert said. He also promised that given the opportunity he would officiate at a same-sex marriage or holy union. Read his statement.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, episcopal leader for the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference, urged Talbert to reconsider officiating at a ceremony that would be in violation of church law.
“I am also concerned that it would encourage the public to only define The United Methodist Church in North Alabama by one matter and not by the rich range of ministries of North Alabama local churches such as feeding the hungry, ministry with the poor, offering hope for those in addiction, sharing the gospel with our neighbors and welcoming all people to worship together and celebrate the sacrament of holy communion. For a bishop or any ordained or licensed minister to disregard a law of the church creates a breach of the covenant they made at their consecration, ordination or licensing,” Wallace-Padgett said. Read her statement.
United Methodist News Service is following the story. Read the UMNS report. http://umcconnections.org/2013/09/30/bishops-oct-26-sex-wedding/