Institute on Religion and Democracy
June 15, 1999
The Rev. Jimmy Creech told several hundred members of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference that it was time for the United Methodist Church to end its "persecution" of homosexuals and to accept same-sex unions. Creech addressed a dinner sponsored by the unofficial Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Washington, DC on June 10.
Creech is now facing disciplinary charges for having conducted a same-sex union earlier this Spring at a United Church of Christ church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Last year a United Methodist jury in Nebraska declined to convict Creech for violating church law when he conducted a lesbian union at his Omaha church. But Bishop Joel Martinez of Nebraska did not reappoint Creech to a church, and Creech returned to his native North Carolina.
Although Creech is now on a leave of absence from the ministry, as an ordained elder of the Nebraska Annual Confernece he is still accountable to church law. Bishop Martinez is deliberating over how to proceed with the latest charges filed against Creech.
Before his MFSA audience, Creech was defiant. He pledged he would not relent in his campaign for homosexualitys acceptance until all of "God children are affirmed, not only in the United Methodist Church but in all of Christendom."
He recounted how his participation in a "gay" rights parade in North Carolina about ten years ago led to his ouster from his pastorate there. "We wanted to affirm the normalcy of all sexual diversity," Creech explained, but most of his churchs members did not appreciate his stance. Without a subsequent church appointment, Creech accepted a job with the North Carolina Council of Churches until Susan Davies, a Nebraska district superintendent, contacted him in 1996 about pastoring a church in Omaha.
Creech said he told Davies that he would violate the churchs prohibition against same sex ceremonies. "Well walk that road together," he recounted Davies telling him. Creech said he was told that First United Methodist Church in Omaha was a "gay" friendly church. He wrote Bishop Martinez a letter explaining his intentions to conduct same-sex unions, Creech said. Martinez did not write back, but during a subsequent lunch Martinez acknowledged the letter and said, "Im not sure what I"ll do."
Describing the two women whom he "married" in Omaha, Creech said both were previously married and had children. One had been Roman Catholic, while the other was Mormon. Both had to struggle to allow their "real" selves to emerge. "They could not deny themselves," Creech surmised approvingly. "Its what we call the grace and the truth of God."
Creech thanked the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, for his support and testimony during his Nebraska trial. Wogaman, who was present at the MFSA dinner, smiled and acknowledged the thanks. Creech said Wogamans wife, Caroline, had been instrumental in persuading her husband to testify as a "pivotal witness" for Creech.
Wogaman, who pastors the church attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton, was subsequently elected by the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference as a delegate to next years General Conference.
"The church has corrupted the message of Gods love," Creech concluded. He received a standing ovation from the MFSA audience. Neither he nor any other MFSA speaker acknowledged or explained why the God of love, as He speaks through Scripture, defines marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.