Davina Kotulski

Straight Southern Methodist Minister Defrocked for Marrying Same-Sex Couples

Filed By Davina Kotulski | October 22, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Jimmy Creech, marriage equality, Methodists, same-sex marriage

Jimmy Creech is about the nicest guy you could expect to meet. He's like John Boy all grown-up. He's sweet, gentle, jimmy-creech.jpgand has an easy on the ears Southern drawl. I met him in 2004 when I was on book tour in Raleigh, North Carolina for Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage.

I'd been introduced to Rev. Jimmy Creech by Mel White, Soulforce Founder. Mel was so proud to tell me about this Straight Methodist Minister who'd been defrocked for marrying same-sex couples. "You must interview him," Mel insisted. After our interview, I was equally smitten by his courageous actions blessing the unions of same-sex couples before same-sex marriage was legal anywhere in the world.

Rev. Jimmy Creech began performing blessings of same-sex unions in 1990. He believed he was answering to a higher calling by supporting and affirming the love of same-sex couples. Although this was at odds with the politics of the United States Methodist Church, he continued to bless same-sex couples' unions even after he was told by Methodist church officials to stop. Soon he was told he was "no longer welcome to serve churches in North Carolina." However, in 1996, he was invited to serve as the senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska.

In 1997, Rev. Creech blessed the union of a lesbian couple who attended that church. When church administrators heard of the news they brought charges against him. Luckily Rev. Creech was acquitted because, at the time, there was no clear law prohibiting ministers from celebrating same-sex holy unions. Rev. Creech was willing to sacrifice his career in order to stand as a straight ally and religious voice to end discrimination. But when he blessed the union of two men in April 1999, the Methodist Church had an official policy that prohibited gay unions and Rev. Creech was defrocked.

He responded by saying that "it's just clear evidence of the heterosexism and prejudice within the church, that even the highest court of the church would decide that one little sentence out of a whole document of material would be law when everything else is guidance. The church wants to use its power and all of its resources to persecute gay people and to deny them full equality."

Since then, he has made equality for LGBT people his life's work. He has received the Flagbearer Award from PFLAG National; the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award; the Saint Alive Award presented by Metropolitan Community Church, San Francisco; the North Carolina Pride, Inc. Award; and the Lee and Mae Ball Award, presented by The Methodist Federation for Social Action. He was selected as one of OUT magazine's "Out 100" in 1998 and 1999.

Jimmy was a featured guest at the Washington, DC Marriage Equality Rally I organized on October 11, 2004 and has been speaking around the country this year about equality for LGBT people in conjunction with the release of his new memoir about his moral journey of rejecting the church's teaching on homosexuality, his revelation that same-sex love was of equal value in the eyes of God to the love of a man and a woman, his decision to bless those unions, and the ensuing censure from his job and spiritual home. The book is called Adam's Gift.

Adam's Gift honors the relationship of mentor and student and how the student is sometimes the one who teaches and expands the mind of the mentor. You're going to love this book and Jimmy's Southern cadence.

I highly recommend it!

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twinkie1cat | October 23, 2011 7:51 PM

This happened quite some time back, but sadly the UMC still is not being honest. Around the same time as the Jimmy CReech incident or maybe a little before, a female pastor in Atlanta Georgia held a holy union for two lesbians, leaders in her church. The Bishop got wind of it and half the church ended up in his office talking him out of defrocking the lady who had managed to merge two dying churches and keep them viable for 15 years. She had great talent for church administration. Her husband was a well known attorney and also went down to have a conference with the bishop and the pastor kept her ordination and later retired. The church however was shut down a few years later by a lying assistant bishop who said that was not what he was out to do, but it was. The problem in the North Georgia Conference was that the bishop disliked both homosexuals and female ministers. He tried to kill both reconciling congregations in Atlanta and was successful with one. The other was larger and when he sent them a homophobic minister they bounced him out as soon as they were able.
Another Methodist minister was defrocked for being gay in Georgia and eventually went to MCC. He became an activist and helped start Soulforce. When our church closed down the bishop actually had MORE trouble because our people went to other churches, some Methodist and some of other denominations and enlightened their congregations.

Jimmy Creech will be speaking on Wednesday, October 26, at 6:30 pm, at Discovery United Methodist Church in Hoover (Birmingham) AL. We have done a book study on his book, Adam's Gift, and his visit is the culmination of our study, and open to the public.