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Talbert takes interim position with commission

10/1/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

A photograph of Bishop Melvin Talbert is available.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. Photo number W03030, Accompanies UMNS #466
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Bishop Melvin Talbert will be the interim leader of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

Beginning in January, he will temporarily succeed the Rev. Bruce Robbins, who reached the denomination's 12-year term limit for general secretaries but received a one-year extension for 2003. In March, Robbins will become senior minister of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Talbert, who lives in the Nashville, Tenn., area, told United Methodist News Service he will continue in his part-time role as ecumenical officer for the denomination's Council of Bishops while performing his new duties for the commission. He said he would not relocate to New York, where the commission's office is based, but will travel there for at least several days each month during his six-month contract.

"I've been a general secretary before, so I know how agencies work," the bishop said, noting that he served as the first leader of the then-new Board of Discipleship from 1973 to 1980. He also is a former president of the National Council of Churches.

The commission has negotiated with Robbins to work on its behalf when the 2004 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, meets next April in Pittsburgh. He will be paid for his expenses but won't receive a salary, Talbert said.

The commission's search committee is distributing information to possible applicants for the general secretary position, according to the bishop. It hopes to nominate a candidate for approval by the denomination's General Council on Ministries in April.

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