LGBT advocate, author Jimmy Creech will discuss his journey April 7-8
Jimmy Creech, a civil rights activist, author and former United Methodist pastor who was defrocked for performing a same-sex wedding, will visit Syracuse April 7-8 for a series of events titled “Free to Love Without Fear: Defying the Church’s Persecution of LGBT People.”
Creech’s recently released memoir, “Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays” (Duke University Press, 2011) documents his own journey as an advocate for the full inclusion of gay, bisexual and transgender people in the church—from his first meeting with Adam, a gay parishioner, through his ecclesial trials, to his work with advocacy organizations Soulforce and Faith in America.
“Free to Live Without Fear” is sponsored by Hendricks Chapel, The Carnegie Religion and Media Program, the LGBT Resource Center, Pride Union and the University United Methodist Church.
Tiffany Steinwert, dean of Hendricks Chapel, says she and the other organizers hope these events will stimulate discussion about inclusion and exclusion, not just in communities of faith, but also in the wider world.
“Jimmy Creech confronts us all with pressing questions of inclusion, equality and justice,” she says. “No matter what one thinks about issues of sexuality and faith, we must think critically about who we include and exclude and why.”
“Jimmy Creech twice made national news when his denomination tried him for blessing same-sex unions. Especially for those interested in social action and the role of the news media, his visit to SU offers a wonderful opportunity to hear from him what one can learn from taking a bold position in the name of justice and what one then experiences in the resulting public exposure,” says Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor and director of the Carnegie Religion and Media Program in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and The College of Arts and Sciences.
The highlights of Creech’s two-day visit include:
- “Fired for Justice: A Public Interview with Gustav Niebuhr” on Thursday, April 7, at 5 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. Creech will discuss with Niebuhr his memoir and the intersection of religion and the media.
- Discussion with LBGTQ students on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in Room 205 of the Hall of Languages. This event will be a discussion with Creech on the intersection of faith, Christianity, sexuality, gender and activism sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center, Pride Union and Hendricks Chapel. The event is open to students only, dinner will be provided. Contact Elizabeth Cronk at 443-2902 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
- Hendricks Chapel Luncheon Series: A Conversation with Jimmy Creech on Friday, April 8, at noon in the Hendricks Chapel Noble Room. Creech will participate in an open conversation about his life’s work advocating for those on the margins. Lunch will be provided for those who respond by April 1 to Elizabeth Cronk at 443-2902 or email@example.com.
- “Reconciliation or Incompatibility: Word Choices Matter,” a public lecture by Creech on Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at University United Methodist Church, 1085 E. Genesee St. In this communitywide dialogue event, Creech will explore the struggle of communities of faith working to end the persecution of LGBT persons and be authentically inclusive. A reception will follow.
On Wednesday, April 6, just prior to Creech’s visit, a “Shower of Stoles” exhibit will be installed at the University United Methodist Church. The “Shower of Stoles” is a collection of liturgical stoles representing the lives of LGBT persons of faith who have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information, see http://www.welcomingresources.org/sosp.htm.
The exhibition is free and will be open to the public at the following times: Wednesday, April 6, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Friday, April 8, 6-8 p.m.; Saturday, April 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, April 10, 9 a.m.-noon.
Creech’s memoir begins in 1984, when he first meets Adam, a gay parishioner struggling with the church’s exclusion of gay and lesbian people. Adam’s visit prompted Creech to re-evaluate his belief that homosexuality was a sin, and to research the scriptural basis for the church’s position. He determined that the church was mistaken, that scriptural translations and interpretations had been botched and dangerously distorted. As a Christian, Creech came to believe that discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was morally wrong. This understanding compelled him to perform same-gender commitment ceremonies, which conflicted with church directives. Creech was tried twice by The United Methodist Church, and, after the second trial, his ordination credentials were revoked in 1999.
Creech is the former executive director of the North Carolina Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, an interfaith same-sex marriage advocacy group; a co-author of the Dallas Principles; and was a participant in the Marriage Equality Express. He currently serves as board chair of the North Carolina Social Justice Project, a progressive policy and advocacy organization based in Raleigh, N.C.
For more information on the series of events, contact Hendricks Chapel at 443-2902.