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Good News calls for accountability following same-sex union

Calling retired Bishop Melvin Talbert’s officiation of a same-sex wedding Oct. 26 “an egregious act of defiance” of United Methodist law, the Good News group has urged the church’s Council of Bishops to hold Talbert accountable.

Good News is an unofficial United Methodist group that advocates maintaining the denomination’s current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The organization issued a statement Oct. 28 calling on the Council of Bishops to hold Talbert accountable for performing a ceremony uniting two men, Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince in Birmingham, Ala.

The executive committee of the Council of Bishops and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, leader of the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference, asked Talbert not to preside over the service.

The committee said, “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 Book of Discipline states that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, and it forbids United Methodist clergy from performing same-sex ceremonies. It also bars such services from being performed in United Methodist sanctuaries. The Birmingham service was performed in a United Church of Christ sanctuary.

After the wedding, Wallace-Padgett said, “My heart and prayers are with all of us as God leads us through this difficult time.”

Good News said Talbert “flagrantly violated the covenant that binds United Methodists together by officiating” at the service. “We understand the emotional and sensitive nature of the sexuality debate within The United Methodist Church,” the group said. “At the same time, same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Alabama, nor is it permitted by the United Methodist Discipline.  Not only did Bishop Talbert defy church law, he ignored the urging of both Bishop Wallace-Padgett, bishop of Northern Alabama, and of the executive committee of the Council of Bishops not to preside over the service.”

In an interview with United Methodist News Service before the wedding, Talbert said, “I just believe deep in my heart that this (church policy) is wrong and someone needs to speak out. I am fully aware of the role of bishops in The United Methodist Church, but I am reminded that the role of a bishop is not only to do certain things for the church, it has the responsibility to do some things to the church.

“We have allowed ourselves to be subsumed to the law of the church no matter what it is, even when we know in our heart of hearts it is wrong. We have decided our loyalty is to obey the Book of Discipline rather than speak to the church about this wrong.”

In calling upon the council to exercise discipline, Good News said that “failure to hold accountable Bishop Talbert and other clergy who are flaunting our church’s policies will result in the unraveling of our church’s covenant and order.  Formal separation may not be far behind.”

Good News’ full statement follows:

Good News Responds to Same-Sex Union Performed by Bishop Talbert

In an egregious act of defiance, Bishop Melvin Talbert has publicly and flagrantly violated the covenant that binds United Methodists together by officiating at a service of holy union between two men in Birmingham, Alabama.  We understand the emotional and sensitive nature of the sexuality debate within The United Methodist Church.  At the same time, same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Alabama, nor is it permitted by the United Methodist Discipline.  Not only did Bishop Talbert defy church law, he ignored the urging of both Bishop Wallace-Padgett, bishop of Northern Alabama, and of the executive committee of the Council of Bishops not to preside over the service.  Elected and sworn to an office of unity, Bishop Talbert has instead chosen to use his position to foment greater division within the UM Church.

As Bishop Michael Coyner has recently stated, “A bishop of the church, whether active or retired, has a special responsibility to teach the faith, to guard the church, and to order the administration and discipline of the church… I don’t think we can be ‘church’ together without a commitment to such order.”

Good News calls upon the Council of Bishops to exercise discipline and hold Bishop Talbert accountable, as they have publicly promised to do on several occasions.  A failure to hold accountable Bishop Talbert and other clergy who are flaunting our church’s policies will result in the unraveling of our church’s covenant and order.  Formal separation may not be far behind.

 

 

 

65 comments

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  1. Hal Neff

    Do I understand the controversy here? Is it an issue of acceptance of GLBT in our churches and congregations? Are they banned? I do not sense a ban in my church and no one seems to ask as they come in the door.
    Or—-
    Is the controversy about whether the UMC will allow our clergy to perform wedding ceremonies for GLBT persons? In the church sanctuary? Or elesewhere?
    Was it today that Sandra Day O’Connor performed a same sex wedding? Anyway, maybe it should be left to the civil officials to do the weddings.

  2. John Fisher

    Get a life people. We’ve bigger fish to fry than to castigate Bishop Talbert, or to demean our gay membership. Let’s feed the poor, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and preach salvation.

  3. Rev. Lyle M. Miller, Sr. retired

    I am glad to see that the Good News People are calling for accountability with regards to Mr. Talbert’s violation of the UMC Discipline. It’s interesting to note. that this site which is suppose to be opened for discussion and comments on events within the United Methodist
    Church has closed the comment page on the original issue that began with Mr Talbert’s action.

  4. Jeanne Rozman

    The Council has its priorities all wrong. Why not a statement on the growing economic inequality in the USA as well as the big cuts in SNAP, the food stamp program. I know three people who depend on food stamps and Medicaid in New York City. If Jesus were here physically he would be speaking out against the policies which exclude some and allow corporations to get by without paying their taxes here, thus forcing one party to push for huge cuts in programs that support those in need! The Council on Bishops should be carrying out the mission of Christ, not be making pronouncement against couples who are committed in love to each other. Where is the love, the acceptance, the compassion of Christ?

  5. Keith

    This disagreement cannot be settled by negotiation. Both groups make it clear that God is on their side. Negotiation under these circumstances would mean I side or the other would deny God. Changing hearts and minds ain’t gonna happen.
    So ,,what would be so wrong in dividing the church. It would be complicated and expensive but it could be worked out. The discussion then would be about money and property not Jesus, we would need lawyers and accountants not thealogans. Why keep beating each other up over this ?
    The next Conference could vote to return all property to the local church. Make retirement and medical stand alone commercial entities. (They’re going broke anyway.) The hardest part will be deciding who has to take the Bishops. ; <)
    This would be as difficult as herding cats,,,but it's all negotiable. It's just business , everybody wins. We could then get back to caring for the hurt and the hungry.
    Keith

  6. Chris

    Talk time is over. You know what the BIBLE says. it doesn’t matter how you feel. It doesn’t matter that you wish there were lesbian relationships in Jesus’ family tree. You know what the Bible says. Debate is not needed. Many of you say “let’s not worry about this. Lets just feed the poor and take care of the children.” I agree. Focus on doing Gods work. Don’t ever bring up your sexual orientation again. If you choose to be married as 2 men or women go to the local courts and do it. If you choose to pursue a career in ministry please seek a denomination that allows it. This isn’t the church for you. If you choose to love God, do His work and be part of His family(homo or heterosexual), then I say ,”welcome, and lets get to work”.
    Talbert should not receive 1 more dollar from the UMC. The MAJORITY is watching and waiting. To our fearless leaders: How do you respond?

    1. John J. Shaffer

      The tyranny of the majority is written clearly in human history. And that is a FACT.

  7. James Ballard

    Everybody will issue statements that will be complicated about the some jot and tittle of the law. And nothing will get done. Rebellion is at the heart of this and statements bantering around are just hopeless. We will DO nothing and we WILL continue to decline. I really question the influential ability of groups like good news. Sorry guys. We look like whinny children.

  8. Chris

    James, I hope you’re wrong. But you just may be right. Honest, if nothing else. John, did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe… The majority isn’t tyrannical. Maybe the majority is just right. Perhaps your small group isn’t actually smarter or more enlightened. Perhaps you and the small minority that think as you do are on the wrong side of this one. We are all looking at the same written word. It’s your group that insists on reinterpreting it to suit your needs. The majority isn’t attempting to read between the lines. We aren’t creating imaginary “what if” relationships. When you have to force something down people’s throats to feel accepted, are you really accepted? No hate here. No tyranny. No bullying. This time, you just won’t get your way. You have many options as to where you practice your faith. I’m just asking that you stop trying to destroy the church that I have chosen to serve God. Please, peacefully leave this alone.

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