The belief system of a lifelong Methodist minister is challenged by the sudden desertion of a gay parishioner.
In the spring of 1984, a grief-stricken, longtime churchgoer announced that he was quitting Creech’s North Carolina diocese because of the religion’s newly announced policy banning the ordination of homosexuals. Creech retraces his childhood, raised in the South by staunch Methodists who addressed sex (and same-sex desire) with disdain. His appreciation of James Baldwin’s groundbreaking gay novel Giovanni’s Room (1956) defied that cultural bias and “planted a seed of doubt in my mind about the sinfulness of homosexuality that would fully mature later on.” Creech writes with intense conviction about the “pastoral responsibility” he felt to research and then logically question the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, to fully re-educate himself and, once convinced there was no wrongdoing, became involved in the gay and lesbian equal-rights movement. The author moved to a new diocese in 1987 where his social activism intensified with participation in gay-pride marches, gay-youth counseling and work with charitable AIDS organizations. Church politics soon exploded, and Creech relinquished his position but was ordained a pastor again after a move. While applauded and considered revolutionary by some, the author’s community participation and controversial gay-marriage ceremonies drew the ire of papal sovereigns and Methodist parishioners who conspired and petitioned against him, labeling Creech a resistant turncoat and ushering in his suspension and exhaustive jury trial. Eleven years in the making, the author’s valiant, first-person narrative examines the conundrum of religion vs. reason. Wounded by endless negative reactions yet buoyed by fellow activists, Creech concludes with a defection from his former Methodist alliance into an all-inclusive San Francisco–based church where he continues to fight for equal rights.
An inspirational example of unbiased humanitarianism.