Bishop Melvin Talbert received a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education in 1959. In his final year at Southern University, Talbert accepted the Call to the Ordained Ministry. He entered Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia, in January 1959. Talbert received the Master of Divinity Degree from ITC (Gammon) in 1962, with the first full class of graduates from ITC. He became involved with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helped plan the first student sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta in 1960. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the invitation to join with the students in the sit-in demonstrations and was arrested with them. Thus, Talbert spent three days and nights in the same jail cell with Dr. King, an experience that shaped his life forever.
Bishop Talbert served as Secretary of Council of Bishops and President of NCCCUSA and attended every General Conference since 1968. In 1973, Talbert was elected General Secretary for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church and served until he was elected bishop in 1980 by the Western Jurisdiction. He was assigned to the Seattle Area and served eight years. In 1988, Talbert was assigned to the San Francisco Area and served until retirement in August of 2000.
In retirement Talbert was elected Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops for 2000-2004 and was President of Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) ‘02-‘04; served as Adjunct Professor for the United Methodist Polity and Practice Course at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN ’01-’04; served as Executive Director of National Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR) 2004 to 2007. He is committed to racial, gender and sexual orientation inclusiveness. He believes there is room at God’s Table for everyone. Bishop Talbert currently serves as Vice-Chair of the board of Reconciling Ministries Network.