Wheatley, Bishop Melvin Papers

Span Dates: 1974-1997
Bulk Dates: 1980-85
Volume: 1.3 linear feet


The collection includes a large amount of correspondence to, by and about Bishop Wheatley, as well as a number of news articles about him and about issues of homosexuality in the church.

Hist/Bio Note

The Rev. Melvin E. Wheatley was a Methodist (later United Methodist) pastor in southern California from 1942 to 1972. That year he was elected a bishop and served the Denver Area until he retired in 1984. During those years, he became a strong public advocate for gay and lesbian persons, at a time when few other church leaders were willing to do so. He emerged in the public media when he dissented from anti-gay statements of the Council of Bishops at the 1980 General Conference. The following year he supported the ministry of an openly gay pastor under his charge. This resulted in charges of heresy which were dismissed after a church hearing in 1982. He and his wife Lucile were active in Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian and Gay Concerns and in Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Finding Aid

A finding aid to the collection is available from The Ira J. Taylor Library. An online version is being created.


The collection is located in the Archives of The Ira J. Taylor Library at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.


Methodist (UMC, United Methodist Church) | Wheatley, Bishop Melvin | Affirmation (United Methodist) | PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) | Activist (religious institutions) | Clergy Activist | California