Bishop Melvin Talbert is known for his prophetic stands for inclusiveness and justice. He has fought long and hard to help his church and society address racism. He is committed to racial, gender and sexual orientation inclusiveness. From 1973 to 1980 he served as General Secretary for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. He was elected bishop in 1980 by the Western Jurisdiction and assigned to the Seattle Area. In 1988, Talbert moved to the San Francisco Area where he served until his retirement in 2000. In his so-called retirement, Talbert has served as Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops (2000-2004); member of the World Methodist Council Executive Committee (2001-2006); member of the Executive Board of the NCCCUSA (2000-2004) and president of Churches Uniting in Christ (2002-2004). In addition to teaching in seminary, he served as Interim General Secretary for General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns in 2004 and Executive Director of National Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (2004-2007).
As a witness to his stance of Biblical Obedience that rejects the church’s negative policies towards LGBT persons, Talbert officiated at the wedding of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince on October 26, 2013, in Birmingham, Alabama. A complaint was subsequently filed against Bishop Talbert which was dismissed through a Just Resolution Agreement in early 2015.
Bishop Talbert was born in Clinton, Louisiana, to sharecropper parents. He earned his B.A. degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge and was in the first graduating class of a new consortium of seminaries called Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He did further study at the School of Theology Claremont and Vancouver School of Theology. He was ordained deacon in the Louisiana Conference of the Central Jurisdiction and elder in the Southern California-Arizona Annual Conference where he served as pastor and staff for a number of years. Talbert now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Marilyn Ruth Williams Magee, and enjoys time with his grandchildren. A lifelong sports enthusiast; he loves football, baseball and basketball. He is also a fan of jazz, classical, spirituals, and “good” gospel music.