Former Pastor Jimmy Creech’s perspective about homosexuality changed when a man named Adam confided in him 28 years ago.
At the time, Creech had served as a United Methodist pastor for 14 years, and Adam was one of his parishioners.
Adam told Creech that he was gay, and he was leaving the church. The church had just forbid the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.” Adam had no desire to be ordained, but he could no longer bear to be part of an organization that condemned him, Creech said.
Creech said his stereotypes of homosexuality were shattered that day. Adam helped change his mind and his heart.
“It opened my eyes,” Creech said. “I was not aware of how the church was doing harm to gay people.”
Creech said he had an immediate, visceral reaction to Adam’s words.
Afterward, he began to study why the church had practices that alienated people.
“Once I began to study the history of it, I realized it was an unfounded and unjust persecution,” Creech said.
Creech later wrote a book, called “Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays.”
This month, Creech will visit Rocky Mount to discuss his book and his experiences during a fundraiser for a local chapter of an organization called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG.
The organization is hosting a dinner, talk and book signing with Creech at 7 p.m. March 27 at the Benvenue Country Club, 100 Southern Blvd. A reception is scheduled at 6 p.m.
Tickets cost $35 for members, or $75 for nonmembers. The deadline to register has passed, but a few tickets still might be available, organizers said.
The local PFLAG group has about 25-30 members, President Susan Ayers said. The group meets once a month and hosts informational speakers and programs.
The group also advocates for legislative issues.
Members include people who are gay, as well as their family members, friends and other supporters, including people with no family connections, Ayers said.
Creech said he is honored to help support the organization.
As he reflected on his early conversation with Adam, Creech said he mostly listened that day. However, he remembers offering some words of support.
Creech assured Adam that God loved him. Adam could count on that, no matter what the church said, Creech said.
Creech also told Adam that he supported Adam’s decision to leave the church.
“No one should remain in a relationship that’s abusive,” Creech said.
He promised to be Adam’s pastor as long as Adam wanted.
In 1987, Creech moved to Raleigh where he joined a network of clergy who worked to promote equality for gay and lesbian people.
Creech’s ordination credentials were revoked in 1999 after he conducted a wedding for two men. Without those credentials, he could no longer serve as a pastor.
Creech said he is committed to the church, and he feels a responsibility to help the church change and regain its integrity. Ostracizing people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is contrary to what Christians believe and give witness to, Creech said, which is God’s love for all people, he said.
“As long as the church does harm to people, it cannot really authentically speak of God’s love,” Creech said. “I’m hopeful the church one day will regain its integrity.”
For more information about the group or the event, call 252-443-0345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.