Tuesday, March 17, 1998
Confessing Movement Official Press Release
CORNET Note: The CM differs sharply with our theological views and concept of ministry. United Methodists, by tradition since the time of John Wesley, hold a variety of viewpoints. This is their press release. We have added links. CORNET recommends John Wesley's "A Catholic Spirit" for his advice on how [United] Methodists and other Christians can be in ministry in the midst of theological difference.
An ad hoc group of pastors and lay persons from The United Methodist Church is denouncing the verdict in a church trial last week which acquitted a minister charged with violating church law.
The Reverend Jimmy Creech of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska had performed a "same sex covenant service" for two lesbian women last September. He was subsequently suspended and charged with "disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church." However, at his trial in Kearney, Nebraska last week, Creech was acquitted of the charge when only eight of the thirteen jurors in the case found him in violation of the Church's ban on performing homosexual marriages. Nine votes were needed for a conviction.
In a statement released Tuesday, the ad hoc group said that Creech's acquittal "exemplifies the failure of an institutional system to enforce the will of its governing body and to uphold its own stated principles." The verdict has no meaning or impact upon "the life and polity of the Church except as an illustration of the failed system which has allowed Reverend Creech to commit this act of disobedience without being held accountable," the statement says.
In addition, the statement calls upon "all faithful United Methodists who share our convictions to prayerfully continue fighting the good fight in the local churches, districts and annual conferences, following the leadings of Scripture, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Included among the signatories of the statement are Bob and Betty Howell and Diane West, members of First United Methodist Church in Omaha.
The complete text of the statement and list of signatories follows.
On Sunday, September 14, 1997 at 2:00 pm the Reverend Jimmy Creech of First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Nebraska performed a "homosexual union" ceremony for two lesbian women. On Friday, March 13, 1998 Reverend Creech was acquitted on the charge that, in performing this ceremony, he had been disobedient to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. Despite the clear Scriptural condemnation of homosexual behavior (cf. Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and the prohibition of "same sex" ceremonies by The Book of Discipline (paragraph 65C) and the Judicial Council (Decision 694), only a majority of eight of the thirteen jurors concluded that Reverend Creech had violated church law. Nine votes were needed for a conviction.
The acquittal of Reverend Creech exemplifies the failure of an institutional system to enforce the will of its governing body and to uphold its own stated principles. We find this verdict to be without meaning or impact upon the life and polity of the Church except as an illustration of the failed system which has allowed Reverend Creech to commit this act of disobedience without being held accountable. Such a system clearly stands in need of radical reform and we are committed to working toward such an end.
We affirm our commitment to the order and discipline of the Church and will have no part in any accommodation to those persons who, through word, action or complicity, have shown their contempt for the same.
We encourage all faithful United Methodists who share our convictions to prayerfully continue fighting the good fight in the local churches,districts and annual conferences, following the leadings of Scripture, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, more than ever, we encourage active support of and participation in renewal ministries such as The Confessing Movement, Good News, UMAction, Concerned Methodists, Walk to Emmaus, Discover God's Call, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, The Mission Society for United Methodists, Lifewatch and Transforming Congregations. Most importantly, we call upon all faithful United Methodists to pray without ceasing for a revival of God's Spirit among us.
The judgment of God is upon The United Methodist Church. We also believe, however, that God has preserved within our denomination a faithful remnant "whose knees have not bowed down to Baal. . .whose mouths have not kissed him" (cf. 1 Kings 19:18).
Therefore, firmly grounding our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God,Savior and Lord; and trusting our lives and eternal destinies to the grace and mercy of God, we commit ourselves anew to the proclamation of the Gospel, to the end that all the world might hear the life-giving, life-transforming message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Such is the true heart and spirit of Methodism.
The undersigned have endorsed this statement as of Tuesday, March 17, 1998
Mr. Scott Benson-Riverdale, Georgia
Rev. James Gibson-Marshallville, Georgia
Rev. Paul Goshorn-South Salem, Ohio
Rev. Barry Hidey-Leonardtown, Maryland
Dr. John E. Horton, Jr.-Macon, Georgia
Mrs. Betty Howell-Omaha, Nebraska
Mr. Bob Howell-Omaha, Nebraska
Rev. Roy E. Jacobsen-Windsor, Connecticut
Rev. Patricia B. Looper-Riverdale, Georgia
Dr. H.T. Maclin-Atlanta, Georgia
Rev. James H. Rush-St. Simons Island, Georgia
Mr. M. Leo Scholl-Dayton, Ohio
Rev. David Unkles-Blakely, Georgia
Dr. Al Vom Steeg-Atlanta, Georgia
Rev. R. Frank Walker-Crossville, Tennessee
Rev. Michael Walker-Irving, Texas
Mrs. Diane West-Omaha, Nebraska
Rev. James O. Williams-Guyton, Georgia
Rev. Dick McClain-Atlanta, Georgia
Rev. John Warrener-Brookfield, Georgia
Rev. Dennis R. Linton-Hendrick--Geneva, Nebraska
Rev. Jim Roper--Maury City, Tennessee
Rev. Brian Davis--Milledgeville, Georgia
Mr. James A. Driskell--Brockton, Massachussetts
Rev. Bob Parker--Circleville, Ohio
Rev. Tom Lambrecht--Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Mrs. Shawna Ellis--Lake Forest, California
Rev. A. Frederick Walz, Jr.--Dunkirk, Maryland
Rev. Benjamin S. Sharpe, Jr.--Fayetteville, North Carolina
Rev. Hank Butler--Damascus, Maryland
Dr. Roger C. Nichols--Joplin, Missouri
Rev. Wesley Putnam--Bedford, Texas
Rev. Walt Bernard--Shelby, Iowa
Rev. Dick McClain--Stone Mountain, Georgia
Rev. John C. Quigley II--Seadrift, Texas
Rev. Michael D. Hinton--Mayflower, Arkansas
Dr. Delbert G. Freeman--Pinckard, Alabama
Rev. Thomas L. Gibson--Boone, North Carolina
Rev. Bill Reincheld--Vidalia, Georgia
Rev. Freeman Porter--Ellaville, Georgia