Jimmy Creech - Adam's Gift
Eight Mary Renault Society members gathered at Peter Bileckyj’s condo an evening in April to hear of the spiritual transformation of one Jimmy Creech.
The story begins in 1984 when there was a pastor serving his calling at a church in Warsaw, NC. The world was untroubled, the stars were all in their places … and things were about to be turned upside down.
Rev. Creech had a visit by an older parishioner whom he admired and respected. The guy, whom he pseudonames Adam, had come to tell him that he was leaving the Methodist Church, and why. In tears Adam noted that the United Methodist Church had just passed rules forbidding any “self-avowed practicing homosexual” from being ordained as a minister and, because he himself was gay, he would not remain part of a church that proclaimed him inferior.
Mr. Creech was shocked and disturbed. He hadn’t been aware of knowing any gays before this, and his church clearly condemned gays. In spite of this, he instinctively found himself telling Adam to trust in God’s unconditional love and acceptance. He supported Adam in rejecting an abusive relationship, even if it was with the church … and he continued to serve Adam as his pastor.
Adam’s visit forced Mr. Creech to do some serious thinking. It caused him to re-examine his church’s position that homosexuality was a sin and to research the scripture used to account for that position. In time he concluded that any anti-gay bias was Biblically unjustified, and he realized that as a Christian, he could not be complicit in discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Adam’s Gift is Creech’s inspiring first-person account of how that one conversation transformed him into an activist and redirected his ministry. It obliged him to perform same-gender commitment ceremonies, which led to his twice being tried by the church for defying church doctrine. He was declared innocent (on a technicality) the first time, but after the second trial his ordination was revoked. Adam’s Gift is a moving chapter in the unfinished struggle to extend the same civil and human rights to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people that others enjoy.
Eventually he received awards from many groups for where his life has led him. And ultimately his wife convinced him that he should write it all down, and it became Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays (2011). At first many publishers rejected the book; but it was in its second printing only a month after Duke University Press published the first. And since then, even though Duke doesn’t support book tours, Jimmy has been busy doing interviews and book readings — and not just in this country.
This particular gathering is actually Jimmy’s third trip to a MRS meeting. He has spoken to the group once before; but before that, in the late 80’s, he brought a guest to a MRS meeting. That happened while he was a minister at Fairmont Methodist. Someone who was gay, isolated, and suicidal had asked him for help, and they met at a fast food place in Knightdale. Having heard of MRS, Jimmy got him to agree to come to a meeting. That particular meeting was led by a guy who taught safe sex, and Jimmy was partnered with Jack to demonstrate how to put a condom on a banana. Jimmy’s friend didn’t come back….
While with us, Jimmy also looked back at his attitudes when younger. He remembered the isolation imposed on an older classmate called ‘queer’. Everyone wanted to be different and away from Peewee — including some who have since turned out to be gay (based on rumors); nobody wanted to be queer like Peewee.
He also remembers, when young, that one of his heroes was named Tom Dooley, a highly decorated Naval officer. Dooley was eventually dishonorably discharged despite his Congressional Medal of Honor — because he was gay.
The presentation confirmed what the Rev. Charles Smith (a retired district superintendent of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church) has said: “Just as we repented for racism, so someday we’ll have a service of repentance for gay people. I don’t know when that will come, but when it does, we will lionize Jimmy.”
NOTE: Gay.com recently conducted an interview with Jimmy Creech. In the in-depth interview which can be found here, Jimmy explains many of the misperceptions some people have about the Bible and what it says about homosexuality. It is well worth reading.