Methodist bishop brings message of inclusiveness

Emory Report | Jan. 31, 2014

Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, known for his deep commitment to racial, gender, and sexual orientation inclusiveness, will give a guest lecture at Emory's Candler School of Theology on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 11 a.m.

Part of the Dean’s Lecture Series, the bishop's talk, "The Intersection of Oppression and Privilege: Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism," is free and open to the public.

Elected bishop in 1980, Talbert has served The United Methodist Church (UMC) as a mentor, pastor, conference staff member, district superintendent and general secretary of General Board of Discipleship of the UMC.

Talbert is known for saying "there is room at God's Table for everyone." He made headlines this fall for officiating at a same-sex wedding in Birmingham, Ala., an act that put him at odds with established church law.

His commitment to inclusion began with race. As a student at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in the late 1950s, Talbert was involved with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Following his arrest at a protest, Talbert spent three days and nights in the same jail cell with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an experience Talbert says "shaped his life forever."

Anne Burkholder, associate dean of Methodist Studies at Candler, says of Talbert's visit, "The United Methodist Church has debated the issue of human sexuality at every General Conference since 1972. This lecture will provide a backdrop for a conversation about ‘Biblical Obedience’ as a movement for social change in the denomination."

In addition to his lecture, Talbert will also join Candler student group Sacred Worth for a luncheon talk.