March 2, 1998
A steering committee from several United Methodist groups called "Proclaiming the Vision" has organized to show their support for a vision of an inclusive church and society, free from bias and fear. The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) brought the group together and is coordinating the project. An initial focus is the support of the Reverend Jimmy Creech, who is to face church trial on March 11-13, 1998 in Kearny, Nebraska.
Laura Montgomery Rutt, member of MFSA and the national organizer, stated, "Jimmy Creech sought, as part of his pastoral ministry, to honor the love, commitment and devotion of two people, who loved each other enough to want to be joined together, promise to love each other in sickness and in health, and honor and be faithful to one another until parted by death. But because these people were both women, he has been charged with disobeying the law of The United Methodist Church. We admire the integrity shown by Rev. Creech to serve the spiritual needs of all of the members his church in an unbiased way, to stand up for his deeply rooted Christian beliefs and God's justice. We honor his values and courage."
She said that the group agrees with Jimmy Creech, who wrote in his " Response to the Judicial Charge" that "There is no condemnatory biblical reference to same-sex sexual behavior between two people who are in a mutually loving, nurturing, caring and supportive relationship. There is no general condemnation of 'homosexuality' in scripture. Certainly, there was no obsession with it in any of the books, and Jesus never talked about it." She noted that Jesus himself told us that the greatest commandment is to love God, neighbor, and self, and that he consistently opposed those who tried to stereotype others as sinners and to exclude them from God's grace.
Proclaiming the Vision has issued a nationwide plea for letters of support for the Rev. Creech, including a defense fund. It also plans to hold a prayer vigil in Kearney the night before the trial; it will release a statement for United Methodist clergy to sign in support of full inclusion, hold debriefing sessions, conduct worship and prayer vigils, and run "Vision Central" -- a hospitality suite in the Regency Inn during the trial.
Two web pages sponsored by members of Proclaiming the Vision are now carrying information and action suggestions about the trial of Jimmy Creech. These web pages will be updated regularly from now on and daily during the trial.
Others on the steering committee include: Dick Royal and Fred Richart from MFSA, Greg Dell from In All Things Charity; Morris Floyd from Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, Lawrence Jensen from "Sharing the Vision" of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska; Mark Bowman of the Reconciling Congregation Program, and Joanne Brown and Mark Henderson from CORNET: United Methodist Covenant Relationships Network.