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Letter from Jimmy Creech

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE CORNET has received this message from Jimmy Creech. ... To: Friends and supporters From: Jimmy Creech Date: December 2, 1999
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 1999
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      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
      Christ's body.

      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,
      Jimmy Creech
      412 South Boylan Avenue
      Raleigh, NC 27603-1910
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