Bishop challenges ban on gay nuptials

Retired bishop Melvin Talbert of the United Methodist Church, who shared a jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. and whose ministries included leadership in national ecumenical bodies, became in late October the first UMC bishop to bless publicly a same-sex union in a church.

Growing numbers of U.S. clergy in the global United Methodist Church, which convenes every four years, have vowed to perform gay weddings in violation of the denomination’s long-standing definition of homosexual conduct as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Some clergy are facing charges or are likely to soon.

Talbert declared at the close of the 2012 Methodist general conference that the church’s official position “is wrong and evil, no longer [calling] for our obedience.” Other bishops urged Talbert to cancel plans to bless a union of two gay men on October 26 in an Alabama church.