March 25, 1998

Opponents of Jimmy Creech gather for Sunday rally


by United Methodist News Service

CONTACT: Thomas S. McAnally, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470 {177}

Some members of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Neb., and others who oppose the pastor's decision to unite two women in a covenant ceremony gathered for a Sunday service at a nearby school March 22.

An estimated 300 people attended the "laity rally" at the school Sunday morning, and about 250 attended a question-and-answer session at a community center in the evening.

By the end of the day, more than 300 signatures were secured on a petition calling for the removal of the Rev. Jimmy Creech and two associate pastors.

Creech returned to his pulpit March 15 after being acquitted in a clergy trial for presiding over the service for the two women. Eight of 13 jurors found him guilty of violating the order and discipline of the church, but nine votes area necessary for conviction.

Creech performed the ceremony in September. He was suspended by Nebraska Bishop Joel Martinez in November and reinstated as pastor immediately after the trial March 13.

Speaking at the Sunday morning rally was the Rev. Ira Gallaway, a retired United Methodist pastor from Albuquerque, N.M. Gallaway is a board member of the Confessing Movement, an unofficial conservative group that has criticized Creech's acquittal. Gallaway also has served on the steering committee of UMAction, a United Methodist offshoot of the conservative Institute for Religion and Democracy.

Gallaway's presence in Omaha incensed some Creech supporters, who charged he is undermining the ministry of another clergyperson.

Patricia Miller of Indianapolis, the executive director of the Confessing Movement, told United Methodist News Service that her organization did not sponsor the Omaha event and that Gallaway went as an individual.

Trumpet Morris Floyd of Minneapolis, a spokesman for a coalition of groups supporting Creech, criticized the event and the Nebraska Conference leadership.

Floyd, who represents the CORNET coalition, said he was "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 large majority of First United Methodist Church members who support his pastorate there."

Floyd was particularly incensed that a district superintendent, the Rev. Marvin Koelling, was at the rally. Koelling, superintendent of the Northeast District with offices in Norfolk, oversaw the First Church congregation during the time that Creech was suspended.

"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.

Gallaway told United Methodist News Service he contacted the district superintendent before accepting the invitation to speak and was encouraged to participate.

He said he assured individuals who issued the invitation that "I won't come and bash Jimmy Creech. My purpose will be to call you to be the best of the faith that is within you." The title of his Sunday sermon was "Turn to God."

In an Associated Press story, Koelling said he was there to let members know the church cared about them.

"I think these people needed a time together, and the message wasn't divisive," he said.

Gallaway told his Sunday morning audience that God had not forsaken them. "He will renew this church," he said.

He pointed to Matthew 19:4-6 as evidence that God meant for only people of the opposite sex to marry one another. But he also warned the group to resist the temptation to be mean-spirited over the issue.

"There is no place for bitterness here," Gallaway said. "This is a place to turn to Jesus Christ and ask Christ to live in your heart."

According to an article in the Omaha World-Herald, "almost all" of those attending the evening responded affirmatively when asked by First Church layman Mel Samrad if they would like to continue worshipping together.

Produced by United Methodist News Service, official news agency of the United Methodist Church, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., New York, and Washington.


| Affirmation | CORNET | CORNET News | Jimmy Creech |

You may download CORNET's "Support Jimmy Creech" banner (right click on it with your browser's mouse and "save as" to your computer disk) and post it on your website, provided you link to You can also reproduce it in church newsletters or newspapers as a means of letting people know about this web site.

Support Jimmy Creech

Here is the code:

<p align=center><a href=""><img src="jcsuppor.gif" alt="Support Jimmy Creech" width=325 height=76 ></a></p>