Badpuppy Gay Today

Thursday, 12 March 1998

THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH MOVES AGAINST ITS OWN

The Trial of the Reverend Jimmy Creech Opens in Kearney, Nebraska
Minister Accused of Conducting a Homosexual Union Service

By the Reverend Dr. Mel White,
Justice Minister UFMCC

 

Yesterday, in Kearney, Nebraska, the Reverend Jimmy Creech began his be trial before a jury of his peers for "conducting a homosexual union" and in the process "disobeying the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church." This historic trial will be a first for America's third largest Protestant denomination, a Christian church with a long history of civil rights activism.

After a lifetime of distinguished service to his denomination, Mr. Creech faces the very real possibility that his credentials will be revoked and his career as a United Methodist Minister ended.

"Frankly," Pastor Creech explains, "I don't feel that I'm in trouble. I feel the Church is in trouble for choosing to deny God's blessings of grace, support, and care to anyone."

As senior minister of Omaha's First United Methodist Church, Pastor Creech celebrated a lesbian couple's holy union in September, 1997, after being advised by his bishop that it would be "in violation of the Order and Discipline" and that if he proceeded "charges would be brought against him."

"I want to be accountable to my bishop and to my church," Mr. Creech confesses, "but I could not withhold God's blessing from these two faithful members of my congregation. I told the bishop that I believed the United Methodist Church was wrong [in its position to withhold the blessing of a holy union from same-sex couples] and that to abide by that position would give credence and power to it."

On Friday, when the jury of thirteen Methodist ministers from across Nebraska announce their verdict, lesbian and gay Americans will have a lot clearer picture of where we stand in the quest for full and unqualified acceptance by the Christian churches they have loved and served.

In 1997, when the United States Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the "Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)," the states were given legal permission to deny same sex lovers the 1,047 rights of marriage. Now, United Methodism is deciding whether an individual pastor will face censor and trial for granting lesbian and gay congregants the marriage rites.

"My trial will determine," Mr. Creech explains, "whether or not - by blessing two people who have shared their vows of love and fidelity with God's grace--I have violated the integrity of the church. I have to tell you," he adds, "that the integrity of the church was violated when the church decided to prohibit the celebration of the love and fidelity of two people regardless of their gender, regardless of their sex."

The trial will take place in the Family Life Center gymnasium at Kearney's First United Methodist Church. After selecting the jury on Wednesday, the prosecution will present its case and its witnesses. The United Methodist Church is the prosecutor. The "prosecuting attorney" or church counsel is the Rev. Lauren Ekdahl, a Methodist pastor from Lincoln, Nebraska. The assistant to the church counsel is Warren Urbom, a Methodist layman and current federal district court judge.

The complainant is the Reverend Glenn Loy, a Methodist pastor from Ogallala, Nebraska, and his counsel is the Reverend Jeff Thurman, of the Stromsburg-Polk United Methodist Churches, the man who brought the initial complaint against Jimmy Creech.

Mr. Creech is the defendant. His counsel is Dr. Doug Williamson, Professor of Religion at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, assisted by Mike McClellan, an attorney in Omaha and a member of Jimmy Creech's church. The Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Leroy Hodapp, hopes to conclude the trial and announce the verdict by late Friday afternoon.

Tuesday night, on the eve of the Jimmy Creech trial, a group of about fifty friends and supporters from his church in Omaha, from PFLAG, from the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, and from other concerned activist and spirit groups, gathered at the Kearney United Methodist Church "to exorcise the demons of fear, ignorance, arrogance, and control - those influences and power not of God which are preying upon the United Methodist Church and holding it captive to alien principalities and power."

George D. McClain, the Executive Director of The Methodist Federation for Social Action, led those who had assembled in the church choir room in Bible readings, communion, the prayers of "social exorcism" and a sung blessing for Jimmy Creech, "And God Will Bear You Up On Eagle's Wings."

Editor's Note: During that pre-trial event, the Reverend Mel White presented Jimmy Creech a gold Star of David embossed with a pink triangle, the badge homosexual Jews were forced to wear in the concentration camps of the Third Reich. He promised the Reverend Creech publicly that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Christians and non-Christians alike would also "bear him up" during the next three days of trial. Please help him, he asks, to keep that promise.


The Jimmy Creech quotations in this article were taken from "The Trials of Jimmy Creech," Mel White's newest (30 minute) video. Although the presiding bishop refused to let White's camera crew video tape the trial itself, this deeply moving press conference and interview with Mr. Creech documenting his amazing life journey is available by sending a check made out to VIDEO 3 for $10 (for duplicating, packaging, and mailing) to Soulforce Videos, P.O. Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA. 92652.

As with all of Mel White's videos, individuals have permission to copy "The Trials of Jimmy Creech" and to share the video with family and friends (or broadcast it on local television or cable access stations.) If you include a second, tax deductible check to UFMCC, one-half of your donation will go directly to Jimmy Creech to help pay his trial expenses and one-half will help underwrite mailing the videos to clergy across the nation with a personal letter from Jimmy Creech.


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