Talbert Complaint Process Ends

What follows is the January 5, 2015, press release from the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops

Bishop Stanovsky

Bishop Stanovsky

 Denver, Colorado: Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky, President of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, announced that a just resolution has been reached regarding a complaint against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert. “I am pleased to share that everyone involved in this process engaged fully in the search for a just resolution. They exhibited high regard and respect for one another, for the Church, and for Christ’s life-giving mission to the world. All parties agree to the terms of the resolution and have agreed to make the Joint Resolution Agreement public in its entirety.” (Read Bishop Stanovsky’s statement.)

Bishop Talbert, who served in the Western Jurisdiction before his retirement, performed a ceremony celebrating the union of two active United Methodist men, Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw, in Center Point, Alabama in October, 2013. The denomination’s Book of Discipline prohibits United Methodist clergy from conducting ceremonies celebrating same-gender unions.

Other parties involved included Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Episcopal Area, who was president of the Council of Bishops at the time the ceremony took place, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the Birmingham Episcopal Area, where the ceremony occurred. Both Bishop Wallace-Padgett and the Council’s Executive Committee had requested that Bishop Talbert not perform the ceremony.

The process for addressing a complaint against a bishop begins when a written, signed complaint is received by the president of the appropriate jurisdictional or central conference college of Bishops. As president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, Bishop Stanovsky led a supervisory team including Bishop Robert Hoshibata, secretary of the College of Bishops, and one clergy and one lay member assigned from the jurisdictional committee on episcopacy. The supervisory response was directed toward achieving a just resolution, focused on repairing harm, achieving accountability by making things right as far as possible and bringing healing to all the parties.

Stanovsky observed that, “The parties to this complaint are all wise and generous leaders who want nothing more than to lead the Church to be more faithful and obedient to God’s mission. They wanted to come to an agreement that would help the whole Church learn how to weather conflict while staying in community. The fact that they could come to a just resolution, despite their very different views, is a sign of hope for the whole church.”

The confidential supervisory response included facilitated and respectful face-to-face conversation and intentional listening over multiple sessions, with the hope of achieving justice, reconciliation and healing. A written statement of resolution, including terms and conditions, was signed by all parties. The supervisory team is now responsible for monitoring implementation of the resolution.

The full text of the agreement follows:

Just Resolution Agreement Among

Complainant, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett

Complainant, Bishop Rosemarie Wenner

Respondent, Bishop Melvin G. Talbert


December 30, 2014


We acknowledge that we, the parties in this just resolution process, like the Council of Bishops and the church, are not of one mind on matters of human sexuality.

Today we recognize…

Whether we were acting in or out of the spirit of the covenantal relationships, we have harmed one another.

We, Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, further acknowledge and express regret over harm to gay and lesbian sisters and brothers, and all those involved, through the complaint process.

We strongly reaffirm that all are welcome in the church and we express our pastoral concern and care for all people.

Bishop Talbert expresses regret for felt harm and unintended consequences that his actions caused some bishops, pastors, and church members.

Bishop Talbert holds steadfastly to the conviction that his actions were just and right. Bishops Wenner and Wallace-Padgett maintain that the request from the Council of Bishops to file complaints shows the Council’s commitment to the Discipline of the church and respect for the ministry of colleagues.

Pain exists throughout the entire connection, including among those who support the actions of Bishop Talbert, and those who object to the actions as well as those who support the request of the Council of Bishops for Bishops Wenner and Wallace-Padgett to file complaints and those who object to the request of the Council.

All parties in this just resolution process agree to live according to the Book of Discipline.

Therefore the parties . . .

1. Affirm the work of the Council of Bishops’ Task Force on Accountability and Task Force on Human Sexuality, Race and Gender in a Worldwide Perspective to define “living in covenant,” community, and accountability.  Recognizing its present and future significance for the vitality of the church, we urge the Task Forces to conduct this work expeditiously.

2. Encourage the Council of Bishops to actively pursue sustained theological conversation especially around human sexuality, race and gender in a world-wide church.

3. Request that the Council of Bishops and all individual bishops make use of the teaching role of the bishop through preaching, teaching, writing and theological conversation to continue to address our differences and to work for unity in diversity.

4. Request that the Council of Bishops consider options in addition to the complaint process to address our differences that reflect our Wesleyan heritage, and acknowledge that ways of resolving disagreements within a community of faith should be distinct from those of a civil judicial process.

We agree to this resolution in response to the concerns contained in the complaints brought by Bishop Wenner and Bishop Wallace-Padgett as requested by the Council of Bishops against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, dated January 15, 2014. Further, we agree to full public disclosure of the Just Resolution Agreement.



  1. Geary Rowell says

    As expected, nothing was accomplished through this farcical process in the Western Jurisdiction. With the fox guarding the henhouse what would one expect? Just how is “All parties in this just resolution process agree to live according to the Book of Discipline” supposed to play out when one party who is guilty of NOT following the BOD in the first place “holds steadfastly to the conviction that his actions were just and right”? God help our Church!

  2. This has nothing to do with just resolution. This is a statement of gay marriage acceptance by claiming some kind of new understanding of how to adhere to the Book of Discipline by violating it. And, they have the nerve to state that the Holy Spirit led them there. Futhermore, while we enter into this new phase (a progressive illusion), ministers can go forth and conduct same sex marriages with no real (as opposed to phony) consequences. For the icing on the cake, they actually printed that “all parties in this just resolution agree to live according to the Book of Discipline”.

    I’m going to try this with the IRS. By not paying my taxes, I’ll argue that I’m actually adhering to tax law by not following it.

    Bottom line, This is outrageous — and in the civil legal system would land some folks in jail.

  3. And we are to believe that Talbert actually agreed tp live according to the Discipline?

  4. Ian McDonald says

    Disappointing very disappointing. Now even Bishops can do what they want were they want without consequence.

  5. View from the pew: The word “resolution” indicates something has been resolved. Absolutely nothing has been resolved; all this does is restate our differences. If this is the best the bishops can come up with, then why even bother to hold another General Conference?

    I keep coming back to the General Conference has spit out the exact same answer TEN times over FORTY years. Doesn’t that mean something? Why do we have processes if we don’t trust God is speaking through them? The original apostles accepted that God had spoken through the roll of the dice when it came to choosing a successor for Judas and were able to move on.

    The bottom line for the United Methodist Church is there is no consensus when it comes to why this particular church is in existence; what unique contribution it can make to the Christian landscape. How does any organization survive without that?

  6. Don Taylor says

    Too bad they don’t read the Bible.

  7. Rev. Brian C. Briggs says

    It’s obvious that the bishops of the United Methodist Church with their $150,000 salaries are amenable to no one. They claim to stand in the Wesleyan tradition which is .as untrue as their claim to follow the Discipline. Sadly it’s been a long time since a bishop was elected based on his or her belief in the Word of God and determination to defend the faith. Shouldn’t. Bishops who violate the Word at least be required to explain what they do believe? In this humanist progressive age does it really not matter what a candidate for ministry believe as long as he or she is willing to follow the culture and please as many people as possible? The popular pastors today are the ear ticklers and best fund raisers and everyone wonders why the United Methodist Church has been sinking for the past 40 years.


  1. […] Lambrecht has written a series of posts in response to the resolution of the complaint against retired bishop Melvin Talbert. Here are links to Lambrecht’s posts: 1, 2, […]

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