Pastor’s Call to Defy Church Persecution – Jimmy Creech
Trinity Cathedral had the honor of hosting Jimmy Creech, a former minister in the United Methodist Church, whose credentials were revoked because he chose to perform same-gender commitment ceremonies which conflicted with church teachings. In the telling of his story, Mr. Creech, a warm and articulate man, spoke of the decisive event that caused him to recognize, for the first time, that his church was excluding, and discriminating against, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This event would subsequently lead to a personal and professional transformation that would have long-reaching consequences.
Mr. Creech told the story of meeting “Adam” who came to him to resign his church membership stating that he could not be part of a community that excluded him for ordination as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” This was an eye-opening revelation to Creech, who began to research the scriptural basis for the church’s position. His work led him to conclude that the church was wrong and that scriptural interpretation and translation had led to faulty assumptions and erroneous conclusions, thus leading to immoral church policies. As a result, Mr. Creech began to perform same-gender commitment ceremonies, which were in conflict with church directives. Subsequently, but not surprisingly, Creech was brought to trial twice by the United Methodist Church and eventually stripped of his ordination credentials for acting against church principles.
That’s the story Mr. Creech shared with us through readings from his book and his explanations of the processes that took him from being a minister to being a “former” minister in the United Methodist Church. As Mr. Creech recounted his story, a profoundly larger story began emerging. This was a story about risk and about sacrifice, and about doing what was right, regardless of the cost — the very definition of heroism. And were these were undoubtedly blessings for Adam, for the same-gender couples whose commitments were blessed, and probably for a great many other people who may have felt invisible prior to Jimmy Creech’s actions and were perhaps feeling a bit more embraced by God as a result of his actions.
Mr. Creech’s actions in individual churches were the pebbles in the pond; the ripples of which would reach, and impact a much larger audience. His story is ultimately one of welcome, of inclusion, of the attempt to break down the gatekeepers that prevent individuals from finding their way to God. Isn’t that the very heart of what churches are all about? Last Sunday, the Gospel was clear: Jesus says that when we welcome his people we welcome him and when we welcome him we welcome God. It seems so obvious, that it hardly seems possible that church policies, principles and protocols would ignore it. But they do, and not only in the UMC. Mr. Creech reminded us all that welcoming our brothers and sisters in Christ is the work we are called to do. He sets the bar high for us to measure up, but I think we’re on our way.
To reword Tiny Tim: God welcomes, everyone.
For more information on Jimmy Creech and his story, go to:
Where you will find information on his book signing tour and additional photos from the event.
Copies of Adam’s Gift are on sale in the Trinity Cathedral Bookshop.