Letter from Jimmy Creech
- CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
CORNET has received this message from Jimmy Creech.
To: Friends and supporters
From: Jimmy Creech
Date: December 2, 1999
Two weeks have past since the trial in Grand Island, Nebraska. While I
still need more time to assess the significance and consequences of the
guilty verdict and the penalty, both for me personally and for the movement
toward justice and community of which all of us are a part, there are a few
things I am clear about and want to share with you now.
First, I am immensely grateful for the support you gave to me, and for the
witness that you made in various ways around the country on behalf of
justice and to affirm the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
persons. I wish I had some adequate and personal way to say to each of
you, "Thank you!" Your support strengthened and empowered me. I never
felt alone. I was always clear that I was only one small part of a larger
faithful community journeying together in this movement of God in history.
You are for me the sign of our Easter faith, confirming our hope that
justice, compassion and truth will prevail over bigotry, injustice and
The trial brought to an end a twenty-nine year relationship that I have had
with The United Methodist Church as an ordained minister. The ordination
that was taken from me by the jury was given to me by The United Methodist
Church. It belonged to the Church and the Church had a right to take it
back. It was not mine to claim; it is not an entitlement. That is the
basic meaning of ordained ministry.
However, the ordination that preceded it and cannot be reclaimed by The
United Methodist Church is the one that came with my baptism, and the one
confirmed by my call to ministry. These belong to me still, and no
institution, jury or person has the authority or power to take them away. I
will continue to honor and live out this ordination in all that I do.
This is not to say that what the Church revoked was unimportant to me.
There is nothing I love more than being a pastor of a congregation. I know
that I cannot be a United Methodist pastor now. I will not dwell on it, but
be assured that I grieve what has been taken from me.
But, I grieve more for those who are being rejected, oppressed and
persecuted by The United Methodist Church because of who they are and
because of who they love. The ordination that has been taken from me is one
that The United Methodist Church has routinely denied and withdrawn from Gay
people long before it was officially required to do so in 1984. Many gifted
persons called by God have been denied ordination because of their sexual
orientation. Others have been denied fellowship, if not membership in the
UMC. Many have been spiritually and psychologically abused by vicious
judgment and condemnation. I am only a casualty of the Church's bigotry
against bisexual, lesbian, gay and transgender persons. They are the true
victims and martyrs. I have been punished only for what I've done. They
are punished for who they are and who they love. The difference is
profound. My loss and pain trifles in comparison.
I also grieve for The United Methodist Church. It has wounded and crippled
itself with bigotry, legalism and fear. Until these impediments are purged
from its soul, The United Methodist Church cannot speak authentically of
God's love in Jesus Christ. Every act and testimony toward that end will be
smudged with the evil of its prejudice and persecution of Gay people. We may
be witnessing its death, at least the death of the Church we have loved and
served. We can mourn the Church that dies; but, we cannot hold on to it and
keep it alive if it's soul is dead. Instead, we must look for the new
reality of God's presence in the world, the new expression and experience of
I believe it is important to understand my trial, along with Greg's trial
and the judicial process against the Sacramento 68 in the California-Nevada
Annual Conference, as resistance within the Church to the movement of God
toward Jesus' vision of an inclusive and just community. The trial resisted
but did not end the movement. Rather, it helped to bring clarity and
definition to it. It was not axial, but only another movement in the
redemptive process of God. It could be seen as a defeat, The UMC's further
fall from grace, or it can be seen as a painful event that opens up new
possibilities for change toward the new thing God is doing. I believe it is
the latter. I believe there is no way that God's movement toward justice,
freedom, dignity and community can be successfully resisted and denied.
I don't feel defeated. I am now among the laity of The United Methodist
Church, called to the same ministry I've always been called to honor, called
to "resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present
themselves." Called "[a]ccording to the grace given to [me, to] remain [a]
faithful member of Christ's holy church and serve as Christ's representative
in the world." It makes no sense to me to leave one habitation of the
Christian Church for another, just so I can have the institutional favor and
privilege of ordination. When I was ordained, it was my privilege to serve
the laity. It is now my honor to serve with the laity.
In practical terms, I intend to become a member of a local United Methodist
Church. I intend to complete the book I've started. It will include the
2000 General Conference, so I have at least another year of work on it ahead
of me. I will continue to accept speaking invitations. And, I intend to
support the work of Soulforce, of the Coalition (MFSA, RCP, IATC and
Affirmation) in its effort to affect change at the General Conference, and
to support the Reconciling United Methodists in North Carolina. And as time
passes, I know
God will call me to other ministries I've not imagined.
God bless you! The journey continues, and we continue together!
Love and peace,
412 South Boylan Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27603-1910