Special Year-End Greeting from Jimmy Creech
In October of 1999, soon after they launched Soulforce, I joined Mel and Gary and a delegation of Soulforce volunteers in Lynchburg, Virginia, to engage televangelist Jerry Falwell in a dialogue about his toxic anti-gay rhetoric. I was scheduled to be put on trial one month later by The United Methodist Church for “disobedience to the Order and Discipline” of the church because I had conducted a wedding for two men.
On the morning after the event, Mel told me, “I hope you’re agreeable with this, but it doesn’t matter because we’re going to do it anyway. We’re going to shut down your trial in Grand Island! We’re going to surround that church, block the doors, and keep the trial from happening!” Mel explained he was awakened by this inspiration at 4:00 o’clock that morning and had begun to make plans for it right away. Later that morning, during an NBC News interview about the meeting with Jerry Falwell, Mel announced to the nation the launching of a “National Soulforce Campaign Against Spiritual Violence” and the first action would be at “the trial of Jimmy Creech in Nebraska.”
Thus began Soulforce’s direct actions to publicly expose and end the anti-gay policies and teachings of The United Methodist Church, as well as other Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church. This work defined Soulforce as the only national organization committed to holding churches publicly accountable for the spiritual violence done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. No other organization had the courage or will to do this work.
In an open letter to those who supported me in my 1999 trial, I wrote: “The role that Soulforce played in exposing the truth about the trial was extremely important. The church wanted to reduce the trial to simply holding me accountable as a law breaker. You folks made that reduction impossible. You made it clear that the trial was about the oppression and persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons by The United Methodist Church. This was a gift to the movement. You have opened the door and shown light into the church’s closet of shame. You did this with your very bodies, with dignity, integrity and courage. No one else was willing to take the direct action that you took. What you did was historic!”
The work of Soulforce continues to be historic, as well as visionary and prophetic.
Rev. Jimmy Creech
Read Jimmy Creech’s memoir, Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays.