Reconciling Congregations board unanimously supports Creech

by United Methodist News Service

Feb. 23, 1998

The Reconciling Congregations Program board of directors has announced its unanimous support for the Rev. Jimmy Creech of Omaha, Neb., who is facing a church trial for officiating at a same-sex union ceremony.

The Rev. Karen Oliveto, board chairperson of the unofficial United Methodist organization, said Creech was responding to the pastoral needs of his community when he performed the service for the lesbian couple at First United Methodist Church in Omaha last fall. The board met Feb. 6-8.

Creech's trial is set for March 11-13. An investigative committee of the Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference recommended that step after determining that the pastor had disobeyed church law.

A national network of more than 165 congregations, campus ministries and agencies, the Reconciling Congregations Program welcomes all people, regardless of sexual orientation, to participate fully in the church.

Executive Director Mark Bowman said the statement adopted by the 1996 General Conference barring pastors and churches from doing "ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions" has been a source of pain and struggle.

Several Reconciling Congregations have deliberated over how to respond to requests for pastoral services from lesbian or gay couples in light of threatened legal action from outside their congregations, he said.

At least a dozen congregations honored the committed relationships of all couples during Valentine's Day weekend services. Those ceremonies were initiated by the Covenant Relationships Network (CORNET), a program of Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Concerns.