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Omaha First Prepares for Creech Trial

Reported by an Omaha First Member

Taken from an article written by Julia McCord that appeared in the Sunday World-Herald .

The charges against Jimmy are:

  • "Disobeying the "Order and Discipline" of the United Methodist Church, particularly the paragraph in the Social Principles that says, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."
  • "Developing a new litugy, which is the sole prerogative of the church's highest legislative body, the General Conference."

The article states that the trial should be lively, due to the issue at hand, national news media attention, an influx of Methodist gay-rights activists from all over the country, and a witness list that includes the Clinton's pastor.  This is Nebraska's first trial in 31 years.  The gymnasium where it will be held seats 400 people.   Creech has requested an open trial, but Retired UM Bishop Leroy Hodapp (the presiding officer) will not allow television, video cameras or photographers inside the courtroom.  Creech was disappointed by his decision.  Hodapp has banned "placards, banners, demonstrations and applause inside the courtroom" as well.

"Creech's counsel is the Rev. Douglas Williamson, an assistant professor of religion and the men's and women's soccer coach at Nebraksa Wesleyan University in Lincoln."  He will be assisted by Mike McClellan, who is a member of FUMC Omaha and an Omaha attorney.

The counsel for the church is the Rev. Lauren Ekdahl, who is senior pastor of Trinity UMC in Lincoln.  U.S. Senior District Judge Warren Urbom will be his assistant.   He is a member of Ekdahl's church.  There had been some concern about Ekdahl, as he is a member of MFSA, but we have been reassured that he is very much against what Creech has done by his act of disobedience.

Creech's side will argue that the Social Principles are not legally binding.   "He will also argue that the church cannot prove that the couple in question are homosexual."  (No...I did not type that wrong.)  Another argument will be that "Methodist pastors have long used unofficial rituals when the need arose."  Williamson will call 11 witnesses:  the minister in Ogallala, NE who filed the charges, six members of FUMC Omaha,  Rev. Don Bredthauer (one of our other ministers), the Rev. Roy Reed (a seminary professor and specialist in UM worship and ritual from Delaware, Ohio), the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman (Clintons' pastor), and Gregory Herek (a research psychologist from the Univ. of California-Davis).

The Church will call three witnesses:  Creech, Rev. Alva Clark (a retired Omaha pastor), and retired Bishop Kenneth Hicks of Little Rock, AR.

Diane West, member - FUMC, Omaha

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