The jury decision in the trial of Jimmy Creech is a glimmer of God's grace. The narrow
decision of these thirteen United Methodist clergy in Nebraska was not an endorsement of
same-sex covenant ceremonies. We understand the jury's message to be that, in a time when
our church is not of one mind concerning the place of gay and lesbian persons in the
church, it is important to keep everyone at the table. The jury was unwilling to discard a
dedicated and gifted pastor who believes that God
calls him to offer full pastoral services to all persons, regardless of sexual
orientation. Furthermore the jury was unwilling to send a message that lesbian, gay and
bisexual persons and their families should be denied access to ministries of the church.
While we regret that The United Methodist Church is unable to unequivocally welcome
lesbian, gay and bisexual persons and their families at this time, we believe that God's
Spirit is moving the church toward such a fuller understanding of the inclusive and
compassionate Gospel of Jesus Christ. The outcome of the Creech trial is one sign of this
progress. However it is distressing to hear voices of those in the church who threaten
withdrawal or reprisals because others on the margins of the church are being
invited to join them at God's table. God's table is bountiful with room enough for all.
Reconciling communities and individuals must help the church discern truth amidst myths
and misinformation. Proceedings of the Creech trial revealed confusion regarding the issue
of "same-sex marriage." Marriage is a legal contract function of the state. On
the other hand, the church blesses covenants, committed human relationships that reflect
our ultimate covenant with God. The fundamental challenge facing the church is not
about same-sex marriage nor, at its root, even about same-sex covenants. The real question
is whether all persons--regardless of race, age, sex, economic status, physical/mental
ability or sexual orientation--are welcome to participate fully in the life and ministries
of the church.
We commend all of those who provided a courageous witness to God's call to be in
ministry with all persons during the trial, particularly the Rev. Jimmy Creech and his
wife Chris; the Rev. Doug Williamson, defense counsel; and attorney Mike McClellan. They
made great sacrifices in order to stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay and bisexual
persons and their families.