March 5, 1998
The COvenant Relationships NETwork (CORNET) has joined the Association of United Methodist Evangelicals of Nebraska (AUMEN) in calling for prayer and fasting to discern God's will during the week of the church trial of the Rev. Jimmy Creech, to be held in Kearney, Nebraska, March 11 to 13, 1998.
Morris Floyd, a spokesperson for Affirmation, the sponsoring body of CORNET, acknowledged that the alliance with a group like AUMEN is unusual. "We disagree strongly with those who oppose covenant relationships between same-gender couples," he affirmed. "Nevertheless, we enthusiastically join AUMEN in encouraging all people of faith to seek God's will in this matter and to pray that the church will be healed of the division it experiences over the issue of homosexuality in the church."
He noted that several groups supportive of Jimmy Creech have, for a a few weeks, been planning to pray and fast. For example, as John Wesley selected Wednesday for early Methodists to fast, University UMC in Madison, Wisconsin is sponsoring a 24-hour Vigil and Fast in prayerful support of Rev. Jimmy Creech. The church is beginning the Vigil and Fast at noon, Tuesday, March 10, and ending at noon, Wednesday, March 11.
"There is great potential that the trial of Jimmy Creech will add to the division and the pain in the church over this issue," Floyd said. "However, it is not necessary that this occur. Prayerfully seeking God's will, not our own, necessitates humility and enables a charitable spirit. When dealing with an issue that engenders the strong feelings this one does, humility and charity are very important qualities indeed."
Floyd said CORNET would encourage Proclaiming the Vision, the coalition supporting Creech in Kearney during the trial, to provide facilities needed by those who will be praying and fasting. The Vision group already has announced plans to hold a prayer vigil in Kearney, Nebraska, the night before the trial.
Creech, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Omaha, NE, is accused of "disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church" because he celebrated a covenant service for a lesbian couple in September of last year. In 1996 the denomination added to its Social Principles a statement that is being interpreted as forbidding United Methodist clergy to celebrate such services.