The World Council of Churches (WCC) is mourning the death of United Methodist Bishop Melvin George Talbert, who served on the WCC central and executive committees during the 1990s.
He died 3 August at the age of 89.
Bishop Talbert was elected to the episcopacy by the Western Jurisdictional Conference (USA) of The United Methodist Church in 1980, and he retired in 2000.
WCC acting general secretary (during the vacation) Marianne Ejdersten extended sympathies to Rev. Talbert’s family and to his church community.
“As you mourn your loss and cherish the memories of your beloved bishop, the ecumenical family holds you in prayer and condolences,” she said. “May we all work together to carry on his legacy of building peace while standing up courageously for justice.”
Bishop Talbert was born in Clinton, Louisiana, and was one of seven children of sharecropper parents. He earned his M.Div. degree from Interdenominational Theological Center/Gammon Theological Seminary, in Atlanta, Georgia.
He once spent time in jail with Rev. Dr Martin Luther King after both men were arrested in Atlanta at a sit-in demonstration in 1960. “We shared the same jail cell. I got a chance to talk to him and really experience the kind of human being he was. I consider myself a disciple of King. I believe in his commitment to nonviolence and believe that is how we must work in the church. That's the truest expression of what it means to be Christian,” described Bishop Talbert.
Among his many accomplishments, Bishop Talbert also served as director and president of the National Council of Churches (USA). He was one of 40 presidential guests to accompany US president Bill Clinton on a peace pilgrimage to Northern Ireland and Ireland in December 1995.