The Rev. Greg Dell

May 10, 2000

By Antony Hebblethwaite

This photo stirred Antony Hebblethwaite to write the poem below about Greg being arrested at the 2000 United Methodist General Conference in Cleveland. Antony was a member of Broadway church. He wrote the poem after the General Conference voted to keep the restrictive policies about ministry to LGBT persons.

GeneralConferenceClevelandProtest2000b.jpg

protesters stand arm in arm in front of building entrance
A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey

Protest of the United Methodist Church's anti-homosexual policies at General Conference in Cleveland, May 10, 2000.

Front row (left to right): Rodney Powell (civil rights activist in the 1960s and activist with SoulForce), Jimmy Creech (the first United Methodist clergyperson to experience a church trial for marrying two gay men and at that time an activist with SoulForce), James M. Lawson (civil rights activist), Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mohandas Gandhi), Phillip Lawson (civil rights activist), Bishop C. Joseph Sprague (Greg's bishop at that time), Gregory Dell, and Saundra Farmer-Wiley (SoulForce Activist).

Other people participating on the front line that day included Yolanda King, eldest daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

I saw you
surrounded by police
your face drawn by the sorrow
of a thousand gay lives
shattered in the conspiracy
that kills in the end.

You surrendered your freedom
with the descendants of
Gandhi and King
and honored my captivity
in the land of life and liberty.

In your eyes misted by tears
I saw a vision of that night
my lover and I wept together
on the edge of our bed.

He drove away at dawn
and still believed the lie
that we weren’t OK.

The bars I’m behind
are not constructed in steel
but in ideas invisible as the wind
strong as hurricanes
ideas that bring the driving rains of loss.

The police put you in jail
with the descendants of
Gandhi and King
and behind those steel bars
you discovered me in your cell
and sat at my side...

...in the land of life and liberty.