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Rebel "Bishop" Violated Direct Mandate Of Discipline In Punishing Evangelical Pastor


A Commentary on the Discipline and Talbert’s Flaunting It

by James Gibson

With the quadrennial General Conference now history, Melvin Talbert, renegade leader of the apostate California Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, has wasted no time flaunting his disregard for the authority of the denomination’s only official law and policy-making body. After setting himself and his conference above the Discipline by refusing to certify charges against 68 rebel pastors last February, Talbert has now leveled the iron hand of punitive action against a pastor who dared to stand up to him. In so doing, the soon-to-be-retired prelate once again violated The Book of Discipline.

As reported per UCMPage.org:

Yesterday, May 18, 2000, Rev. Kyle Phillips, pastor of Tehachapi Valley UMC was summoned to meet with Bishop Talbert and the Cabinet. Kyle is the leader of the six evangelical pastors who have called for escrowing apportionments in response to Talbert's disregard for the UMC Discipline following the failure of the Committee on Investigation to charge Rev. Don Fado, et al for performing a gay marriage last year.

Coming one week after GC2000, this is clearly retributive on Talbert's part and reflects what DS David Bennett told another of the six during GC2000 that "Kyle will be targeted." All 6 pastors, plus several intercessors, also went, in support. The bishop told Kyle that Kyle was the most arrogant man he had ever met, and that he was surprised Kyle still had a church if he treated his parishioners the same way he treats his colleagues and superiors. He then told Kyle that he was being moved to another smaller, almost dead church effective July 1, and Kyle has absolutely no choice. This is against Kyle's wishes and his congregation's wishes, and clearly seems a punitive move. It involved absolutely no consultation and was clearly premeditated and deceptive, waiting until after GC2000 to spring it on him. Ministry in Tehachapi was going great, the church there loves Kyle, and they have had very significant growth and renewal. Kyle thanked the bishop, but will soon have a public letter posted announcing his response.

The fact that this action "involved absolutely no consultation" is consistent with Talbert’s previous action in dismissing the charges against Fado and company. It indicates a clear pattern of behavior on Talbert’s part to disregard the Discipline whenever it gets in the way of his personal agenda. The latest violation involves paragraph 431, "Consultation and Appointment-Making":

Consultation is the process whereby the bishop and/or district superintendent confer with the pastor and committee on pastor-parish relations, taking into consideration the criteria of p. 432, a performance evaluation, needs of the appointment under consideration, and mission of the Church. Consultation is not merely notification. Consultation is not committee selection or call of a pastor. The role of the committee on pastor-parish relations is advisory. Consultation is both a continuing process and a more intense involvement during the period of change in appointment.

  1. The process of consultation shall be mandatory in every annual conference.

  2. The Council of Bishops shall inquire annually of their colleagues about the implementation of the process of consultation in appointment-making in their respective areas.

[Emphasis added]

What is different about this particular violation, however, is that the Discipline places the mechanism for accountability squarely in the lap of Talbert’s colleagues on the Council of Bishops! Traditionally, the bishops have abdicated the responsibility of holding their colleagues accountable, opting instead to let pastors and lay persons exercise their right to file complaints. However, this time, the bishops themselves have a clear mandate from the Discipline with regard to Talbert’s reprehensible conduct. Will they be obedient to it? Or will they, like Talbert, simply ignore it?

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