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United Methodist Coalition For United Methodist:  News Release Complaints Filed Against Disobedient Bishop

From: MBGoodyear@cs.com
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2000 1:14 PM
Subject: News Release
News Release

Hi Everyone, Tuesday Bishop Galvan received an 8 page complaint against Bishop Talbert from one of the lay members of our church. The following is the press release that we sent out today. Thought it might be good for you to have it ahead of the rest. At this point we encourage others to write their own complaints against the Bishop. There are numerous issues at stake here. Take a look at paragraph 2624 - and you will find much grist for the mill. As far as filing the complaint, follow the procedure listed in Paragraph 358. If you need help let me know.

Blessings, Mike



April 19, 2000

Contact: Mrs. Jacque Vance - (916) 987-3355 Dr. John Stumbo, Coordinator of Legal Services, CUMA - (912) 825-8567 Dr. Ira Gallaway, Chairman, CUMA Steering Committee - (505) 797-2996

Complaint Filed Against Bishop Melvin Talbert

ORANGEVALE, CA -- A formal complaint has been filed against Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, charging him with "Disobedience to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church." The complaint, brought by Jacque Vance, a laywoman from the Orangevale United Methodist Church (Orangevale, CA) with assistance from the Coalition for United Methodist Accountability (CUMA), was filed with Bishop Elias G. Galvan, (Seattle Area), President of the Western College of Bishops, on Tuesday, April 18.

Vance, a personnel consultant from Orangevale, charged Talbert with failing or refusing to respond to initial complaints from lay persons in the Orangevale church. The complaints were duly filed soon after 68 United Methodist pastors participated in a "same-sex covenanting service" in Sacramento on or about January 16, 1999. The complaints, however, were put aside by Bishop Talbert with no acknowledgment or response. After a second set of complaints were filed by a member of his own cabinet, the Bishop referred the matter "on or about May 10, 1999," to a Committee on Investigation of the California-Nevada Annual Conference.

Nine months later, on February 8, 2000, the Committee on Investigation finally delivered its decision. It acknowledged that while the 68 clergy had admitted their participation in the same-sex celebration, it did not believe the charges were proper for trial, and the complaints were summarily dropped. On February 11, 2000, at 12:00 Noon (Pacific Time), Bishop Talbert issued a prepared statement concerning the decision of the Committee on Investigation. He reiterated the decision of the Committee on Investigation but then could not resist making his own statement justifying the decision of the Committee.

Following his restatement of the text of the decision, Bishop Talbert said:

"The Book of Discipline is commonly called the Book of Laws. It is also called the Book of Covenant. While this particular committee may appear to have broken covenant with the Book of Discipline, there is another more basic and fundamental covenant that has precedence over this one narrow focus of law. In our polity, the Annual Conference is the basic body of the church, (Paragraph 31 Article II, The Constitution), . . .It is my humble opinion that the decision of this Committee on Investigation does reflect the longstanding covenant commitments for inclusiveness and justice of the California-Nevada Annual Conference." (Emphasis supplied by italics)

Jacque Vance, who filed the complaint, went on to conclude: "This Bishop is saying that the California Nevada Annual Conference may make its own law, that it is above the established and adjudicated law of the United Methodist Church and that it does not have to comply with it." Vance's complaint goes on to say, "The Bishop cannot excuse or justify his disobedience by pretending to claim the superiority or prior right of the Annual Conference as it relates to clergy members."

In summary, Vance charges that Bishop Talbert has been "disobedient to the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church," and thus has "endorsed anarchy and promoted sedition," and warns that such disobedience "gives a license to everyone in the United Methodist Church to disregard any and all parts of the Doctrinal Standards and the Discipline of the denomination." While Bishops have more influence than many lay people in the church, Vance concludes that bishops have "equal standing before the denomination to obey its laws." A bishop, she concludes, "has no right to stand above the law without paying the consequences."

Ira Gallaway, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for United Methodist Accountability (CUMA), which assisted in the preparation of the complaint, said: "CUMA exists to `seek doctrinal, fiscal, and procedural accountability in the life of the United Methodist Church.' Bishop Talbert claims the committee took appropriate steps to adjudicate the matter `in keeping with our church polity.' We don't believe either the Committee or Bishop Talbert handled the matter `in keeping with our church polity.' Unfortunately, they didn't judge the facts of the case. They chose, rather, to judge the law of the church, with which they disagree."

John Stumbo, attorney from Ft. Valley, Georgia and coordinator of legal services for CUMA, said, "There is no question in this case as to what the facts were and what the law of the church is. Unfortunately, the Investigating Committee and the Bishop chose to ignore both. A church cannot function with this kind of lack of accountability."


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