Just days after charges were dropped against one Methodist minister for performing a same-sex wedding, a formal complaint has been filed against a Methodist bishop for exactly the same reason. Bishop Melvin Talbert is alleged to have violated the “sacred trust” of his office by marrying two men in Alabama whom the Church had previously refused to marry.
While Talbert is not the first Methodist clergyman to face charges for performing a same-sex wedding, his case is significant because he is a bishop. The charges also highlight the rift within the Methodist Church over marriage equality. Another bishop, Martin McLee, just called upon the Church to stop exactly these type of prosecutions, having dismissed the charges against Rev. Thomas Ogletree for performing his own son’s wedding to another man.
A supervisory team will review the charges against Talbert. “We need the whole Church to respect the supervisory process and uphold it in prayer,” said Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who is in charge of the process. “Everyone involved takes their role very seriously and is working for a just, healing and faithful outcome.”
Talbert married Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince, an Alabama couple, despite being told by the presiding bishop not to do so. “I am truly saddened that a complaint has been filed over what was one of the most love filled and happiest days of my life,” said Openshaw.
Even more saddening (and maddening) is that the Talbert would be the target of charges. The retired bishop has a long and distinguished career as a minister and civil rights leader, having spent three nights in a jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. after they were arrested at a sit-in. Somehow we doubt that whoever his accuser might be has anything like the same track record.
Photo credit: Reconciling Ministries Network