Gil and I are thrilled with the news of the wedding of Jim Wilborne and John Romana at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ceremony was held on Saturday, April 23, and co-officiated by the Rev. Val Rosenquist and Bishop Melvin Talbert. We are happy for the newlyweds and grateful for the faithful and courageous act by active minister Rev. Rosenquist and retired Bishop Talbert. The ceremony may immediately jeopardize the pastoral credentials of Rev. Rosenquist because the current anti-LGBTQ policy of The United Methodist Church (UMC) pointedly instructs clergy not to preside at same-sex weddings, and that no same-sex wedding can take place in a UMC sanctuary.
While officiating at a same-gender wedding is likely to bring charges of disobedience to church law, this is an act of empowerment for all involved. When we step out in faith, really take a risk for what is right; the Spirit meets us there. Let’s add our blessing to the couple, the co-officiants, and the community and supportive clergy who blessed this union.
Gil’s immediate response was, "’Right On,’ my home state of North Carolina, Bishop Talbert, & Rev. Val Rosenquist!!!!! I am now convinced more than ever that the resistance to marriage equality by the majority of delegates at United Methodist General Conferences is a reflection of the racist votes of the voters at the 1939 Unification Conference that established the all-black, racially segregated Central Jurisdiction. I am so pleased that Bishop Talbert who is black is continuing to be prophetic in his witness.
We who are black have been historically enslaved and segregated by the biblical misinterpretation of "The curse of Ham" in the book of Genesis.
HOW LONG WILL THE UMC CONTINUE TO ‘CURSE’ SAME-GENDER LOVING PERSONS?
They have become the ‘New N......’ of this moment in history.”
FROM REV. ROSENQUIST AND BISHOP TALBERT:
“The United Methodist Church is where we learn and live out God’s love. My ministry requires – and all who are baptized in The UMC promise – to seek justice for all people. It grieves, angers and saddens me that the institution I love and through which I serve God has institutionalized injustice and oppression through its policies,” said Rev. Rosenquist. “I’m presiding over this ceremony in faithful response to my ordination. It’s time for this couple, it’s time for this church, it’s time for society: it’s time for justice and to celebrate the love shared by these two men, the church and God.”
Bishop Talbert, who received an official complaint for officiating a same sex wedding in 2013 and who remains the only Bishop to preside over a same-sex wedding in The UMC, was part of the original special commission at General Conference 1972 that stated LGBTQ individuals are people of sacred worth and deserve human and civil rights.
“I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself during my time as an activist in the Civil Rights movement that hate won’t bring about change, but love will,” said Bishop Talbert. “I decided to participate in this wedding because this isn’t the time to give up. It’s time to keep pushing for what is right.”
(Excerpts taken from the Reconciling Ministries Network Press Release. For more information about RMN and the It’s Time campaign, visit rmnetwork.org.)
Gil, an active supporter for many years, and I, as a former executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, send our prayers and best wishes to those who will be "fighting the fight" at the 2016 UMC General Conference in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20.
~Marilyn Bennett, Director, From Selma to Stonewall: Are we there yet?