Jimmy Creech, a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, was an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church from 1970 to 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from The Divinity School of Duke University. During the summers of 1965 and 1967, he studied with The Institute for Mediterranean Studies at Hebrew University and Hebrew Union Theological Seminary in Jerusalem, Israel, and at museums and archaeological sites in Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. He served as a pastor in churches of The North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church from 1970 to 1990.
While at Fairmont United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, (1987-1990) he helped create and was the chairperson of the Raleigh Religious Network for Gay and Lesbian Equality, an ecumenical group whose purpose was to publicly counter antigay religious rhetoric with a faithful message of God’s love for and inclusion of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation.
Jimmy served as the Program Associate with the North Carolina Council of Churches from 1991 to 1996. He was the Council’s Legislative Liaison with the North Carolina General Assembly, representing the Council on a broad range of issues including gun control, criminal justice, abolition of the death penalty, health care, AIDS/HIV funding, campaign finance reform, farm workers, children, and the repeal of the Crimes Against Nature (Sodomy) Law. He helped to create and was the first chairperson of The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children, a coalition of nonprofit agencies providing services to children. The Covenant represented the interests of children at the North Carolina General Assembly. He also helped to create People of Faith Against the Death Penalty. While he was with the North Carolina Council of Churches, the Council voted approval of the membership application of the Gulf Coast District of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the first state Council of Churches in the United States to do so.
In July of 1996, Jimmy was appointed Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska. In March of 1998, he was acquitted in a church trial of a charge of violating the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church when he celebrated a covenant ceremony for two women in September of 1997.
When the Nebraska bishop would not allow him to continue as the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Jimmy took a leave of absence from pastoral ministry within The United Methodist Church and returned to his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, in June of 1998.
In April of 1999, Jimmy celebrated the holy union of two men in Chapel Hill, NC. Charges were brought against him and a church trial was held in Grand Island, Nebraska, on November 17, 1999. The jury declared him guilty of “disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church” and withdrew his credentials of ordination.
Since the summer of 1998, Jimmy has traveled around the country preaching in churches and speaking on college and university campuses, as well as to various community and national organizations about human and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. From 2000 to 2005, he was chairperson of the Board of Directors of Soulforce, Inc. (www.soulforce.org), an inter-religious movement using the principles of nonviolent resistance, taught and practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., to confront the spiritual violence perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons by religious institutions.
In 2005 Jimmy worked with Mitchell Gold to create Faith In America, Inc. (www.faithinamerica.com), an organization dedicated to ending bigotry disguised as religious truth and, in so doing, achieving full and equal civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in America. Jimmy served as its executive director from 2005-2007.
In May of 2009, Jimmy was one of twenty-four thinkers, activists and donors who gathered in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the immediate need for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States. Collectively they authored The Dallas Principles, a set of eight principles and a call to action intended to guide the civil rights movement for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.See www.thedallasprinciples.org; and, www.actonprinciples.org.
Jimmy is the author of Rise Above the Law: The Appeal to the Jury, The United Methodist Church’s Trial of Jimmy Creech (The Swing Bridge Press, 2000); and Adam’s Gift: Memoir of a Pastor's Calling to Defy the Church's Persecution of Lesbians and Gays, (Duke University Press, 2011).
Currently Jimmy is retired and living in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jimmy has been active in the following organizations:
The Human Relations Commission, City of Raleigh (2008 to 2010);
Friends of Residents of Long Term Care, Board of Directors (2008 to 2010);
Raleigh HIV/AIDS Support Group (co-leader, 1990-96 and 1998 to present);
The Methodist Federation for Social Action, NC Chapter;
The Raleigh Religious Network for Gay and Lesbian Equality (a founder and convener, 1988-1990);
AIDS Service Agency for Wake County (NC) (former vice-chairperson and chairperson of the board, 1989-1990);
The North Carolina Pride Political Action Committee, now called Equality NC; (charter board member)
The Reconciling Congregation Program, a program related to United Methodist Church that works with local churches to help them become open to and accepting of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual persons, now called The Reconciling Ministries Network (former national board member);
North CaroliniansAgainst the Death Penalty (former chairperson and board member);
People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (NC) (a founder, former chairperson and board member);
North CarolinaLow Income Housing Coalition (former board member);
The Covenant with North Carolinas Children (a founder, former board member and chairperson; a coalition of organizations advocating for the interest of children in the North Carolina General Assembly);
The Omaha Faith Committee of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty (former board member);
North CarolinaReligious Coalition for Marriage Equality (founding member);
Soulforce, Inc.(former chairperson of the board), an inter-religious movement using the principles of nonviolent resistance, taught and practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., to confront the spiritual violence perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons by religious institutions;
Faith In America, Inc. (former executive director and board member), an organization dedicated to ending bigotry disguised as religious truth and, in so doing, achieving full and equal civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in America; and,
North Carolina Social Justice Project, Inc.(founding member; former chair, board of directors).
Jimmy has received the following awards and recognition:
The 1990 Lee and Mae Ball Award presented by The Methodist Federation for Social Action for outstanding Christian social witness;
The 1990 North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence Award for outstanding leadership in the struggle against hate activity in North Carolina;
The 1997 Paul Green Award presented by the North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union for his work to abolish the death penalty in North Carolina;
The Triangle (NC) Business and Professional Guild Award (1997) for advocacy on behalf of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender persons;
The Heart of Freedom Award (1998) presented by ANGLE/Omaha (Achieving New Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender Endeavors);
Jimmy Creech Profile of Justice College Scholarship Award, established in Jimmy’s name in Nebraska in 1998;
The 1998 North Carolina Pride Inc. Award;
1998 Saint Award presented by Metropolitan Community Church, San Francisco;
Selected as one of OUT Magazine’s 100 in 1998 and in 1999, recognizing individuals making significant contributions toward the advancement of civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people;
The Human Rights Campaign Equality Award, 1999;
The American People Award (1999) presented by People for the American Way “for challenging bigotry and promoting tolerance within the church”;
1999 Dignity Award presented by the Council of Churches, Santa Clara County, California;
1999 Pride Interfaith Coalition Award, Boston, Massachusetts;
The Year 2000 Flagbearer Award presented by PFLAG National;
Triangle Community Service Award 2000: Straight Ally of the Year presented by the Triangle (NC) Business and Professional Guild;
“A Leading Voice” for Commitment to the Struggle of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People for Honor and Dignity, presented by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and Pacific School for Religionon April 19, 2001;
The W.W. Finlator Award, 2007, presented by the ACLU of Wake County in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the advancements of civil liberties;
The 2008 Distinguished Service Award, North Carolina Council of Churches.
The 2010 Frank Porter Graham Award, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina given to honor a lifetime of distinguished service in defense of civil liberties;
The first annualJimmy Creech Prophetic Award for Taking Risks for Conscience’s Sake (2010), presented by the Methodist Federation for Social Action, North Carolina Conference Chapter;
The Leading Voices Award from The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (2011), co-recipient with Chris Weedy;
The California-Nevada MFSA 2011 Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly Peace and Justice Award;
The California-Nevada Conference Committee on Reconciliation 2011 Turtle Award (for sticking out your neck);
The LGBT Center of Raleigh’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award; and,
The Peggy Campolo Carrier Pigeon Award, 2012, (For Giving Love, Support & a Voice to the Misunderstood Children of God), by the Open Door Community Church, Sherwood, Arkansas.
(This biographical statement provided by Jimmy Creech.)
Biography Date: February 6, 2003