By Matt Smith
San Francisco’s former United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert gave a sermon at the denomination’s global conference last year, urging pastors to defy church law by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Church leaders predict that Talbert’s action will aggravate a conflict between conservative and liberal factions of the United Methodist Church – one of the last mainline Protestant denominations that bans same-sex marriage.
With roots in the civil rights movement and a past stint as president of the National Council of Churches, Talbert appears destined to become the most prominent of Methodist clergy members headed for formal church trials for their defiance – a process that begins with a complaint from a church member.
“Yes, I expect someone will file a complaint against Bishop Talbert,” said the Rev. Tom Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News. The conservative group advocates continued support for paragraph 304.3 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which calls homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.”