Coalition Issues Statement on Talbert Case

Renfroe

Renfroe

Six renewal and reform groups within The United Methodist Church released a joint statement (see below) protesting the conclusion reached in the case regarding retired Bishop Melvin Talbert. The statement said the resolution in the case was “inadequate, unfitting, and improper.”

“We were simply amazed by the resolution,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News. “To most observers it certainly appeared that Bishop Talbert had performed a same-sex service and that he had undermined the ministry of a colleague. But the so-called ‘just’ resolution resulted in no adverse consequence for these clear violations. In fact, Talbert was allowed to reiterate that ‘his actions were just and right.'”

Talbert performed a same-sex service on October 25, 2013, in Birmingham, Alabama, even though the UM Church’s Book of Discipline prohibits its clergy from such an action. He also performed the service over the objections of Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, who presides over the Birmingham Episcopal Area, and the Council of Bishops executive committee.

“The process has taken altogether too long and there is nothing satisfactory about what has been determined to be justice,” said Pat Miller, executive director of The Confessing Movement within the UM Church. “There has been no response to justice or accountability.”

Miller

Miller 

At the behest of the church’s Council of Bishops, Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, then president of the Council, filed two complaints against Talbert in March 2014. One was for performing a same-sex service and the second was for undermining the ministry of a clergy colleague.

Lomperis

Lomperis

On December 30, 2014, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky of the Mountain Sky Episcopal Area announced that a just resolution agreement had been reached between Bishops Wallace-Padgett and Wenner and Bishop Talbert. The agreement resolved the case short of further investigation and a church trial.

“This represents yet another disappointing failure of leadership, courage, and trust from our bishops,” said John Lomperis, director of UMAction. “The resolution undermines trust throughout our denomination, and harms our church’s mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world.”

The Renewal and Reform Coalition consists of six groups of clergy and laity seeking to maintain United Methodist teaching and practice within the boundaries of scriptural Christianity as stated in the church’s doctrinal standards. The groups include The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, Renew Network, Transforming Congregations, and UM Action.

“It’s not that we are clamoring for a trial for Bishop Talbert,” said the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, coordinator of the coalition and vice president of Good News. “We would prefer a just resolution over a trial, just not a resolution that undermines the Discipline and makes a mockery of accountability.”

###

As leaders of the Renewal and Reform Coalition in The United Methodist Church, we believe the so-called “just resolution” of complaints filed against Bishop Melvin Talbert for performing a same-sex union service and undermining the ministry of another pastor is inadequate, unfitting, and improper. It fails the church. This settlement mocks the notion of a “just resolution” of Talbert’s intentional act of defiance because it fails to acknowledge that a serious breach of the covenant occurred and it contains no specific commitment to avoid future transgressions.

The Renewal and Reform Coalition consists of six groups of clergy and laity seeking to maintain United Methodist teaching and practice within the boundaries of scriptural Christianity as stated in the church’s doctrinal standards. The groups include The Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church, Good News, Lifewatch, Renew Network, Transforming Congregations, and UM Action.

The fact that there were no consequences for violating the Book of Discipline nor any expressed regret for doing so invites future violations by Talbert and other clergy who disagree with the church’s biblical and compassionate provisions on marriage and sexuality. This settlement is one more in a series of “just resolutions” that have ignored the violation of official United Methodist policy as determined by 11 General Conferences over the past 40 years. It has become apparent that certain parts of the church and certain bishops have determined not to uphold and enforce the spirit, as well as the letter, of the United Methodist Discipline that they vowed to maintain at their ordination and consecration, and which all bishops reaffirmed as recently as last November’s Council of Bishops meeting.

As leaders of the Renewal and Reform Coalition, we call upon annual conferences to elect delegates to the 2016 General Conference who will restore accountability and integrity to our United Methodist covenant of baptism, membership, and ordination. We further call upon General Conference to pass legislation that will create a consistent global accountability for bishops and defined penalties for performing same-sex unions or marriages. We call upon all bishops to uphold and enforce the provisions of the Discipline with integrity, even when they disagree with those provisions. We also call upon the Council of Bishops to lead The United Methodist Church by teaching our church’s doctrine and by upholding our church’s discipline-not by seeking a public posture of neutrality.

Finally, we call upon those who disagree with our church’s doctrine and discipline to exercise their dissent within the parameters of obedience to our church covenant. Actions of defiance and willful disobedience tear apart the unity of Christ’s church, erode trust throughout our denomination, and severely undermine the church’s mission to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, coordinator of the RRC and vice president of Good News
Rev. Larry Baird, past president of The Confessing Movement within The UM Church
Rev. Karen Booth, director of Transforming Congregations
Rev. Bill Bouknight, associate director of The Confessing Movement within The UM Church
Rev. Keith Boyette, chairperson of the Good News board
Rev. Walter Fenton, director of strategic resources for Good News
Rev. Daniel Fuller, convener of the NE Jurisdictional Evangelical Connection
Mrs. Judy Graham, president of The Confessing Movement within The UM Church
Mrs. Kathryn Kiser, team leader of Renew Network
Mr. John Lomperis, UMAction director
Sen. Patricia Miller, executive director of The Confessing Movement within The UM Church
Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News
Rev. Paul Stallsworth, editor of Lifewatch
Mr. David Stanley, chair of UM Action steering committee
Mrs. Jean Leu Stanley, UM Action steering committee member
Mr. Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy

Comments

  1. Clif Mefford says

    There is nothing just about anything coming out of our Council of Bishops. The fix is in, the Council of Bishops is fractured so badly it either cannot or will not disciple these renegade Bishops and ministers. The Council has determined that they will allow the UMC to be torn apart and they will deal with the “ashes” as best they can. I lament the numerous opportunities that the Council squandered in correcting these renegade actions as they occurred.

    Clif Mefford

  2. Saving the United Methodist Church is literally in the hands of the Six Renewal & Reform Groups. It is my prayer, and the prayers of many, many others, that these leaders of our church will rescue it, save it at General Conference 2016. May God bless them.

    • I hope and pray that the church continues to seek God’s direction of love and grace in this matter. I applaud actions of biblical justice and love for our LGBTQI brothers and sisters. One day, the UMC will overcome the hatred and discrimination and welcome all as God’s children.

      • Chingachgook says

        Telling people lies and having faith built on a shame is hate. It is also hate to assume as you do in your statement that those opposed to this unbiblical stance hate LGBT members, since we speak Biblical truth we don’t hate them we love them far more than you.

        Effectively your entire statement is hateful as it presupposes your view is correct whereas those opposed want to follow Biblical principle’s narrow path and instead presuppose the Bible’s Authority is correct.

        When the thief comes he will steal the paper thin veneer of faith away. When the Strong-Man comes He will ask why the teacher thought that lies were stronger than Truth.

        Jesus answered, “…You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” ~John 18:37

      • You don’t love people by lying to them and telling them that their sins aren’t sins, instead of telling them to repent and believe in the Good News.

        And just because you believe what the Bible says and choose to tell people the truth instead of lies doesn’t mean you are being hateful or discriminatory.

        Furthermore, who is not welcoming homosexuals? Along with that, how do you welcome homosexuals by lying to them? That doesn’t seem very welcoming to me.

        I would rather welcome them into the Body of Christ by sharing the Good News of repentance and faith, and welcome them into the Kingdom of God which is for those who were formerly idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals and unrepentant sinners of any and every kind (1 Cor 6:9-11).

  3. I commented on this resolution on the Confessing Movement website, so I’ll be brief. I appreciate the statement for its clarity and for its call for substantial changes in church polity. I also appreciate the cooperation of the leadership of the major groups of evangelicals/traditionalists. I am concerned that there needs to be an ongoing effort to enact those substantial changes at General Conference. Such an effort, with a foundation of prayer, would do much to raise the morale of a very confused and dispirited denomination.

  4. I am glad to see a group of Renewals join together on an issue. It is only by uniting for the common good that something will change the status quo of the issues. Praying for Godspeed for this group and others to join in; to expand more thought and unity heading toward GC 2016.

  5. The statement is good and the things being asked of Annual Conferences and General Conferences are good. I just hope and pray that there are specific action plans that are being implemented yesterday to help make these things happen, because Annual Conferences are right around the corner. I hope and pray there are plans by renewal coalition leaders to involve the grassroots. May God help us and give us grace.

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