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Religion IN BRIEF

Pastor Defrocked Over Gay Wedding

November 20, 1999|From Times Wire Services

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — A United Methodist pastor who set off a controversy three years ago by holding a lesbian wedding was defrocked Wednesday for once again officiating at a marriage of two men.

The Rev. Jimmy Creech made headlines when he was acquitted of a similar charge last year. Since then, the church has clarified its rule against pastors conducting gay marriages.

A jury of 13 Nebraska ministers imposed the penalty after unanimously convicting Creech of violating church law by uniting two men at a ceremony in North Carolina in April.

Sixty-seven ministers from California and Nevada are awaiting trial now for jointly performing a ceremony uniting two lesbians last January in Sacramento.

A defiant Creech, 55, predicted after the verdict that it would "widen the wound of the soul" of the 9.5-million-member church.

"The church has said it will use its power--legal power, spiritual power and financial power--to enforce bigotry. It is a sad day."

But John Grenfell, a board member of Good News, an independent evangelical movement within the denomination, said the verdict upholds church law.

"I admire Jimmy's courage of conviction, but I'm dismayed by his arrogance of superiority, believing his stance is more right than the collective wisdom of the church and its traditions," he said.

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