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Good News Board: Flagrant Disobedience Has Become"Ecclesiastical Anarchy" In The UMC

Good News protests Dell's appointment as "consultant" and Creech's performance of homosexual wedding ceremony

LEXINGTON, KY - The executive committee of the board of directors of Good News, an evangelical renewal movement within the United Methodist Church, protested the plan agreed to by Bishop Joseph Sprague for the Rev. Greg Dell to remain at Broadway UM Church in Chicago as a consultant to the "interim" pastor. It also decried the announcement that the Rev. Jimmy Creech will perform another homosexual union ceremony. In addition, the executive committee announced that it will be closely monitoring general conference elections as well as charges filed in the California-Nevada Annual Conference against UM clergy who participated in a lesbian union ceremony earlier this year. The executive committee met in Lexington April 22-23.

The Good News executive committee lamented the fact that the Rev. Gregory Dell, convicted in a clergy trial for performing a homosexual union ceremony, will become a "consultant" for the "interim" pastor who will be appointed to Broadway UM Church in Chicago. Dell will remain in the Broadway church parsonage. In addition, Dell will become the director of In All Things Charity, an unofficial network of clergy members and others who oppose the denomination's official standard regarding homosexual practice, a network housed at Broadway UMC. The executive committee has no quarrel with Dell having an income. However, the current arrangement approved by Bishop Sprague appears to suspend the verdict and penalty of the trial court, rather than suspending Rev. Dell. The executive committee also decried the announcement by the Rev. Jimmy Creech, who performed a lesbian wedding ceremony in Omaha in 1997, of his intention to preside over a service for two gay men in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Newscope reports the service took place Saturday, April 24, in Chapel Hill.) The executive committee noted that the UM Church may again be forced to spend yet more money on another church trial because of the self-aggrandizement of an individual who has already been tried for the same offense.

"The use of an 'interim' pastor at Greg Dell's church and Jimmy Creech's announcement that he is going to perform another same sex service signals the intent of the pro gay constituency in the United Methodist Church to make homosexuality 'the' issue of the 2000 General Conference," said Dr. Phil Granger, chairperson of the Good News board of directors and district superintendent of the Kokomo District of the Northern Indiana Annual Conference. "In the face of seven consecutive General Conferences that have consistently upheld the biblical position that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, the pro-gay lobby continues to press its agenda and is willing to risk the unity of the church. One must question if the church can and will allow this kind of flagrant disobedience to its Order and Discipline to continue. The leadership of the church must take seriously this ecclesiastical anarchy that is rampant in our denomination."

The Good News executive committee recommitted itself to monitoring the church trial situations in the California-Nevada Annual Conference regarding complaints that have been presented to Bishop Melvin Talbert against Rev. Don Fado and 69 clergy members who co-officiated with him in a lesbian union ceremony in mid-January. The committee expressed its deep concern that the disciplinary process be followed with integrity in regard to numerous individual complaints that have been filed with Bishop Talbert, complaints that appear to have been set aside in favor of a single complaint drafted by the cabinet, without being given due process. Bishop Talbert has been an outspoken advocate opposing the United Methodist position in regard to homosexual practice.

In response to reports of procedural irregularities in regard to the election of General Conference lay delegates in various annual conferences, the executive committee formed a taskforce to monitor the coming elections. "Our taskforce will monitor procedures in General Conference elections. Procedures that alter the standards of our Discipline need to be weighed as to their intent and integrity," says John Grenfell, chairperson of the taskforce and clergy member of the Detroit Annual Conference.

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