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Former PFLAG board member Rev. Gil Caldwell dies
2020-09-16

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Former PFLAG National board member Rev. Dr. Gilbert H. Caldwell passed away, the organization announced in a press release.

A retired United Methodist Church minister, Caldwell participated in the 1963 March on Washington, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, the March in Boston protesting public school segregation and the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.

Caldwell worked to change the United Methodist Church's position on LGBTQ+ inclusion and, as a UMC minister, officiated his first same-sex wedding on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day in 2014.

Former PFLAG National Board President Jean Hodges said, "I considered Rev. Caldwell a real role model for how to do the work within faith communities, and within communities of color. As a Methodist—and the mom of a gay man—I was moved and inspired by all that he did to bring more allyship and engagement within the UMC. I will miss my dear friend, and PFLAGers everywhere have lost a real champion for inclusion."

Marilyn Bennett—director of the film From Selma to Stonewall: Are We There Yet?—said in a separate release, "Gil and I started our journey together while working together to change the anti-LGBTQ policies and practices of the United Methodist Church, including being arrested during a peaceful protest at the denomination's 2000 General Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

"In 2003 we engaged in a conversation between Gil, an older Black, non-LGBTQ, retired pastor and Civil Rights Movement foot soldier and myself, a younger white, lesbian, author and activist. Our dialogue via letters addressed racial and LGBTQ topics, which led us to founding Truth in Progress.

"Gil called us the 'odd couple' and, going forward, I will greatly miss my odd partner. I believe he is now in the presence of the Divine, has exchanged his cane and freed both hands one for the Bible and the other for today's New York Times. You have broken our hearts, Gil, with your departure but not our spirits. No, we are still here and will move justice forward with your presence ever near."


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