Retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin G. Talbert visits Candler on Wednesday, February 5 at 11:00 a.m. as a guest lecturer in the Dean’s Lecture Series, where he will address “The Intersection of Oppression and Privilege: Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism.” The lecture is free and open to the public. Register here

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 United Methodist Church. Since retiring in 2000, Talbert has continued on in many roles, including serving as ecumenical officer for the Council of Bishops, president of Churches Uniting in Christ, adjunct professor for the United Methodist Polity and Practice Course at Vanderbilt Divinity School and executive director of National Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR).

Deeply committed to racial, gender, and sexual orientation inclusiveness, Talbert is known for saying "there is room at God's Table for everyone." He made headlines this fall for officiating at the same-sex wedding of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince in Birmingham, Alabama, 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) and helped plan student sit-in demonstrations in the city. Following his arrest at one event in which Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined SNCC’s efforts, Talbert spent three days and nights in the same jail cell with Dr. King, an experience Talbert says “shaped his life forever.”

Anne Burkholder, associate dean of Methodist Studies at Candler, sees Talbert’s visit as timely and important.

“The United Methodist Church has debated the issue of human sexuality at every General Conference since 1972. It’s an issue that’s not going away,” she says. “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.