An excerpt from the November 11, 1999 Reconciling Kansas E-newsletter related to the trial of Jimmy Creech and what you can do.
"So often, amid tidal waves of history, when masses of humanity are captured by a false idea or enslaved by a tyrannical system, God speaks to a single person."
That's what Bishop Dick Wilke tells me in this week's Disciple 2 lesson, and it makes me think of Jimmy Creech who - for a second time - faces a United Methodist church trial for the "disobedience" of blessing a gay couple and their love by name. If we apply the Disciple metaphor to next Tuesday's trial, the denomination seems captured and enslaved by the false idea that God blesses only some, leaving the others to plead like Esau - "Have you only one blessing? Bless me, too!" - and then, like Esau, to weep aloud at the pain of exclusion and deceit. And yet, God calls each of us by name and blesses us by name. There's plenty of blessing and grace to go around.
Wichita College Hill recently had a blessing of the animals to commemorate the feast day of St. Francis. "Give us your pet's name," pastor George Gardner instructed the people, "because a blessing ought always to be personal." And animals of all sorts were walked down the center aisle and blessed by name in a United Methodist church. Their human lovers were gay and lesbian and straight. All were blessed alike. And yet to shift from blessing the beloved dog to the human love that binds that household is precisely the transgression for which Jimmy may be punished with next Thursday's verdict.
... The national media will cover the story with interest ... even if Kansas media dodge it. Ironically, all this drama unfolds just as the Council of Bishops was encouraged to be more open to Reconciling and a Judicial Council ruling tried to close the door on congregations calling themselves Reconciling.
Reconciling advocates invite you to drive-up to Nebraska, attend the trial, join the civil disobedience, or spectate at will. You can send mail to Jimmy and send a check to finance costs. Realistically, though, few of us will do those things. So... here's a Reconciling "Things To Do" list that you can do in your own home and your own church. If you want to do more, you know where to find your stamps, your checkbook and your car keys.
1. Get two candles, silence your space, and experience anew that you are a blessed child of God. You decide how to do this. Maybe you remember some "heart-warming experience." Maybe you pray with words for a blessing in the now. Maybe you close your eyes and inhale blessing, exhale joy. After you experience it and feel blessed, say "I am blessed by God" as you light your candle. Now let the second candle symbolize Larry & Jim, the couple whose union Jimmy blessed last April and who will come under public scrutiny next week. Ponder the unlit candle and imagine their struggle to live without a blessing, to love without a blessing. How does it differ from your lit candle, your blessed life? If you agree with people like Jimmy who bless others, light the second candle and say "Larry and Jim are blessed by God."
2. In the days ahead, if you hear people say that Jimmy Creech is on trial, speak immediately and suggest that the United Methodist Church is on trial for fuelling another round of anti-gay rhetoric that leads to the genocide of people like Matthew Shepard, and on trial for punishing preachers of integrity who try to model the unlimited grace of Jesus Christ.
3. Send supportive mail to Jimmy Creech / Trinity UMC / 511 N Elm St / Grand Island NE 68861-4599.
4. Write a check to help pay Reconciling expenses with the trial. Makechecks payable to MFSA, write "Creech Defense Fund" on the memo line, and address the envelope to Katherine Johnson / MFSA / 212 E Capitol St NE / Washington DC 20003-1036.
5. Consider organizing a prayer vigil next Wednesday night - during the trial - at your congregation. If you're interested in a service, you can request a sample liturgy from Chicago Broadway UMC by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To hurry things, ask if they'll e-mail it to you. If you organize any local solidarity, please e-mail Laura (email@example.com) the news facts about your event; she'll compile information during the trial about grassroots support for Reconciling.