Northwest Texas Conference opposes gay marriages
by CHRIS NEWTON
MIDLAND. Texas — Ministers
should not sanction same-sex mar-
rlages, the Northwest Texas
Conference of the United Methodist
Church said June 5 in resolutions
passed at the conference's annual
One resolution passed after hours
of emotional debate called for "more
strict obedience to scriptural principles."
Another resolution stated that the
conference "repudiates teachings that
misuse principles of inclusiveness
and tolerance to distort the doctrines
and disciplines of the church."
The debate concerned a church
jury's decision not to punish a
Nebraska pastor who performed a
Pastors and voting church mem- .
bers on both sides of the issue gave
emotional tearful testimony and
called for the conference to take
"It's not. time to not talk aboul this."
said Andy Hearst, a pastor who
preaches to students at Texas Tech
"We must decide that the body of
the church must be radically different
than the surrounding culture."
Hearst said. "Love without discipline
is nol love. Freedom without boundaries is not freedom."
Church member Julian Nevern
argued thai Methodist pastors should
perform gay marriages.
"We must love as God loves."
Nevern said. "Our differences make
us special and we must not turn
these people away."
In a church trial in March, the Rev.
Jimmy Creech was acquitted of
charges he disobeyed rules by performing a homosexual marriage. The
case challenged the denomination's
Creech and his supporters consider
the Melhodists' Social Principles to be
advisory, nol 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
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 lo perform gay marriages.
The conference also passed a resolution to call for a special session of
the General Conference, the national
governing body of United Methodist
Church, if (he Judicial Counsel rules
Creech did not break the rules.
A resolution, proposing lhe church
disassociate itself from the United
Methodist Church, was ruled oul of
order by Bishop Alfred Norris.
"This conference clearly does not
have (he power as an entity lo remove
Itself from the United Methodist
No gay marriage: Members of the Northwest Texas Conference of the United
Methodist Church vote on a resolution before Bishop Alfred Norris, center, during an
annual meeting on June 5, 1998, in Midland, Texas. During the meeting, several resolutions were passed criticizing a church jury's decision not to punish a minister who performed a gay marriage in Nebraska. —Photo by Kes Gilhome
Church." Norris said.
Norris also struck down several resolutions that proposed lhe church nol
ordain ministers that condone homosexuality.
lie told members that the only the
executive board of clergy has the
power to alter requirements for ordination.
Church member Roberl Hawkins,
who proposed the resolution lo disassociate Irom the United Melhodisl
Church, said thc church will continue
lo loose members if il does nol lake
stronger stance against gay marriages.
"We must agree that we have a
problem and lhal these problems are
serious," I lawkins told the conference. "Now is not the time to sweep
Ihis under the carpet, hoping il will go
away. Some problems will go away ...
they will go lo the Baptist Church,
and the Nazarene Church and the
The conference represents nearly
80.000 church members in Norlhwesl
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