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Minister Fired Over Gay Marriage

May 6, 1998

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A United Methodist pastor who attracted national attention last fall by performing a lesbian unity ceremony said late Tuesday he has been fired.

Rev. Jimmy Creech said he was informed by Bishop Joel Martinez that his job as minister at First United Methodist Church of Omaha would not be renewed. He will remain through June.

Creech said the bishop told him that division within the church stemming from Creech’s September marriage of a lesbian couple has made him unable to lead his congregation, which has lost a ``significant number″ of parishioners who opposed the union.

``He felt that I am not going to be able to bring about a reconciliation,″ Creech said.

Martinez could not be reached for immediate comment. A voice messaging service on his telephone in Lincoln indicated that his answering machine was not activated.

Creech was acquitted in March during a church trial on charges he disobeyed rules by performing the marriage. The case challenged the denomination’s Social Principles.

Creech and his supporters within the church consider the Methodists’ Social Principles to be advisory, not church law like the Book of Discipline. The issue has split the Methodist church’s 9.5 million members.

Creech said he met with Martinez for about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon and during that meeting, ``he informed me that I would not be reassigned.″

Methodist clergy are appointed for one year at a time.

Creech said he has no immediate plans.

``I’m still a bit numb,″ he told Omaha television station KETV. ``I haven’t made any plans. I haven’t given any thought to the future, other than being here at United Methodist Church.″

The church’s international Council of Bishops, the highest judicial body of the United Methodist Church, issued a pastoral statement last week in Lincoln reaffirming its belief that it is wrong to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

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