March 24, 1998
Morris Floyd, spokesperson for Affirmation:United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns today deplored the illegal worship service held in Omaha, Nebraska on March 22, 1998. Speaking on behalf of the Covenant Relationships Network (CORNET), Floyd noted that the actions by Confessing Movement leader, the Rev. Ira Gallaway, associate director of The Confessing Movement, tended to undermine the ministry of the Rev. Jimmy Creech and First United Methodist Church, Omaha, in violation of United Methodist Church law.
A March 21 Internet communication from Patricia Miller, executive director of the Confessing Movement, characterized the event as a "rally" for the laity of First United Methodist Church, to be held at Westside High School in Omaha at 10 am Sunday. Dr. Gallaway's message was to be entitled "How Can We Be Part of Renewal Efforts in The United Methodist Church."
Floyd said, "We are appalled that the cabinet of the Nebraska Annual Conference is implicated in what can only be regarded as a direct attack on the Rev. Jimmy Creech and the majority of First United Methodist Church members who support his pastorate there." The reported presence of district superintendent Rev. Marvin Koelling, "presumably means that official permission was given for this service to be held" so as to sidestep the Discipline's prohibition against holding a service within the bounds of a pastoral charge to which one has not been appointed without the consent of the clergy member or local pastor in charge or the district superintendent.
"However," Floyd said, "adherence to the letter of this provision cannot reduce the degree to which Creech's ministry has been undermined by this action." He added, "It is not only Jimmy's ministry that is at stake, but the very order of The United Methodist Church. If the bishop and cabinet, in effect, ignore the verdict of the trial court that acquitted Creech of the charges against him and to permit efforts to undermine his role in the local church to which he has been appointed, they themselves are destroying the very order and discipline which they so recently sought to enforce."
Floyd said: "Bishop Martinez and his cabinet should be working to facilitate a resolution of the disagreements within First United Methodist Church, not legitimizing efforts to create a power struggle for control of the congregation." He continued, "We call upon the cabinet of Nebraska Annual Conference to put a stop to these illegal events. We pray that this matter can be settled without further charges and trials. We hope that The United Methodist Church can regain the vision of John Wesley, who tolerated theological diversity and encouraged his following to respect and love each other in the midst of difference."
Floyd noted that "the recently concluded dialogue on theological diversity within United Methodism developed some 'guidelines for civility.' We urge the Confessing Movement and other leaders of the denomination's right wing to consider prayerfully whether those guidelines ought not to apply to how we deal with this conflict."
CORNET, a program of Affirmation, includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual Christians who stand for justice and love for all members of The United Methodist Church.