November 9, 1999
In little more than one week, there will be a United Methodist Church trial in Grand Island, Nebraska. While the church will be prosecuting me for celebrating the holy union ceremony for Larry Ellis and Jim Raymer in April of this year, this trial is neither my trial nor is it exclusively a United Methodist trial.
This trial belongs to everyone: to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families against whom this trial is an act of violence; to all who love justice and want to end the persecution of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender people by The United Methodist Church and other Christian churches; and, to all who grieve The United Methodist Church’s renunciation, in the cause of bigotry, of Christ’s unconditional love and welcome extended to all people.
Many persons from all over the United States will be going to Grand Island to make a clear and uncompromising witness against the violence, the persecution and the apostasy of The United Methodist Church. While this witness speaks one message of opposition and protest, it will be varied both in how it is made and by whom it is made. Some will make their witness through nonviolent direct action and are prepared to be arrested. Others are making their witness through the presence of solidarity and support. People at different places in their journeys choose different ways to witness to what God has spoken to their hearts and minds. No one way is superior to another when it is an act of integrity and faith. We may make different choices, but we are all making the same witness.
In addition to those going to Grand Island, many are making their witness in their home areas through prayer vigils, letter writing and other public expressions of support.
I support and am grateful for all ways this witness will be made, because the message in support of justice, respect, acceptance and inclusion of all of God’s children in the Body of Christ will be unambiguous and profound.
The support many have given to me as I approach the trial has strengthened me. But, of greater importance, my hope is rescued and sustained by the growing numbers of people, both nonmembers and members, who are making a clear witness in many different ways that the persecution of gay, bisexual, transgender and lesbian people must end, and the grace of God must prevail in The United Methodist Church. I believe their witness, in concert with God’s spirit, will ultimately redeem The United Methodist Church, and no one ever again will be punished in the name of Christ because of sexual identity or orientation.
Jimmy Creech Raleigh, NC