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Minister Fired Over Gay Marriage

May 6, 1998

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ The Methodist minister who performed a lesbian marriage and then survived accusations he had broken church rules must look for a new job.

The Rev. Jimmy Creech was told Tuesday he would not be reappointed after his stint at First United Methodist Church in Omaha ends in June.

Creech said Bishop Joel Martinez told him he has been unable to lead his congregation, which has lost a ``significant number″ of parishioners who opposed the lesbian union ceremony he performed in September.

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

Martinez could not be reached for comment. A voice messaging service indicated that his answering machine was not activated late Tuesday.

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

Creech and his supporters 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, the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States after Southern Baptists.

Creech said he has no immediate plans. Methodist clergy are appointed for one year at a time.

The international Council of Bishops, which is made up of 50 active U.S. bishops, 17 from other countries and 57 retired bishops, issued a pastoral statement last week reaffirming its belief that it is wrong to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

But the church’s highest judicial body, the Judicial Counsel, will hold a special session in Dallas in August to consider whether its ministers should be able to perform gay marriages.

The Judicial Council cannot make rules, but rather interprets religious statements much like the U.S. Supreme Court interprets law.

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