November 7, 1997
This is now a historical document. Letters are no longer solicited. Jimmy Creech has left Nebraska. For up-to-date information, visit the Jimmy Creech Support Page.
CORNET thanks the Reverend Jimmy Creech for a courageous and loving act, one of many in his life. In September 1997, he participated in a covenant service for two women at First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska. We believe that his stand for justice and love is firmly based upon biblical, Christian, and Wesleyan values.
We are disappointed that Bishop Joel Martinez has suspended Jimmy Creech for 60 days, effective November 10, 1997, before the completion of a formal process of review. Unfortunately, many persons will interpret the suspension as a condemnation We fear this action will create further division rather than dialogue. We are praying for Bishop Martinez, Reverend Creech, the members of First United Methodist Church, Omaha, and our whole denomination that healing and true reconciliation can grow from this conflict.
CORNET regrets that the issue of Covenant Services seems to be moving toward an either-or stand off with "winners" and "losers." Covenant Services are worship services. John Wesley supported diversity in worship; therefore one of our Doctrinal Standards declares, "It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and many be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners... Every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish rites and ceremonies, so that all things may be done to edification" (Article XXII, The Book of Discipline).
The embracing of a multiplicity of forms of worship and opinions is at the heart of the identity of United Methodism. John Wesley taught that we are to tolerate difference (opinions) as we seek, through God's guidance, to be holy in heart and life. Holiness of heart and life is participating in the means of grace, both acts of piety and mercy, but, most important of all, loving God, neighbor and self. Today the command to love most certainly includes all United Methodists, no matter what their heart-felt Christian opinions, no matter what their sexual identity or preference.
Within our polity, United Methodists must be concerned with church law. The 1996 General Conference added these words to the Social Principles: "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches" (Paragraph 65c). Because of Judicial Council's past rulings, CORNET does not believe that the Social Principles are church law. The Social Principles themselves say that they "are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit." If they are law, then all of the Social Principles must be enforced equally. These days, it seems that only the two statements declaring "the practice" of "homosexuality" a sin and forbidding "homosexual unions" are administered as church law by some church leaders. We urge all United Methodists to prayerfully study the complete Social Principles.
CORNET believes that United Methodists, such as Jimmy Creech, have a right to conscientiously object to any unjust and unloving principle or law and to participate in nonviolent acts of resistance. Walking such a righteous path, living out what John Wesley called "holiness of heart and life," can be costly; but Jesus calls us to such sacred work. Long ago, Jesus, who sat at table with those labeled as sinners by the religious power structure, taught that justice, mercy, and faith were the weightier matters of the religious law. Jesus is walking beside you, Jimmy, on your journey of justice, love, and faith.
Some years ago, Jimmy sat down "at table" with gay and lesbian people and learned from these sisters and brothers in the faith. When United Methodist clergy and laity have talked with and listened to lesbian and gay Christians as equals, they have gained a deeper understanding of the Body of Christ. Our denomination is harming an important part of the Church, gay and lesbian people.
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. Some do not agree with our support of the Reverend Jimmy Creech or our opinion that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians have equal standing with heterosexual Christians. John Wesley once issued an invitation, which we now offer to all United Methodists:
...Love me not in word only, but in deed and in truth. So far as in conscience thou canst (retaining still thy own opinions and thy own manner of worshipping God), join with me in the work of God; and let us go on hand in hand. Speak honourably wherever thou art, of the work of God, by whomsoever he works, and kindly of his messengers." ("Catholic Spirit," Sermon 39)
If your heart is right with God, as our heart is, then let us all walk together, while respecting our differences, that we may love God as God has loved us.
We invite persons to send letters supporting Jimmy Creech to Bishop Joel Martinez. For more information, please visit our web site at http://www.umaffirm.org/cornet/ . It carries news and editorials about Jimmy Creech's action and educational and theological materials about the broader issue of same-gender covenant relationships in The United Methodist Church.
CONTACT: Jeanne Knepper
Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Concerns
PO Box 66147
Portland, OR 97290
The Reverend Jimmy Creech
First United Methodist Church
7020 Cass Street
Omaha, NE 68132
Bishop Joel Martinez
2541 North 49th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68504-4553
CORNET: United Methodist Covenant Relationships Network