Marilyn Bennett and the Reverend Gilbert H. Caldwell became friends through their coalition work for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights at the 2000 United Methodist Church General Conference in Cleveland, where –among other things- they participated in nonviolent civil disobedience and were arrested at the request of church officials. They also worked together on the founding of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church.
In the fall of 2003, Gil and Marilyn (they refer to themselves as EB, elder brother, and YS, younger sister) began an extensive email correspondence, entitled Truth in Progress: Letters in Mixed Company, sharing their personal life experiences of being black/white, straight/lesbian, older/younger, with cane/without cane, and male/female. Through this frank and unusual exchange, they began to peel back layers of things talked about and things not talked about between communities, whether or not experiences of injustice are comparable, and who can speak to these issues with integrity. They came to see that defining and voicing their perspectives led to a larger truth, a “truth in progress” as the layers of experience continue to reveal themselves. They published a limited edition of Selections from Truth in Progress: Letters in Mixed Company in 2007.
Gil is a retired African American United Methodist clergyman. His ally/advocacy is a natural expression of his years as a “foot soldier” in the Black Civil Rights Movement, as well as his theology, Christology, biblical interpretation, and faith. He lives in Asbury Park, New Jersey, with Grace, his wife of 52 years. He is the author of Something Within (Church Within a Church Movement, 2007), Race, Racism and Reconciliation (self-published collection of essays, 1989), and Just the Right Word (Abingdon Press, 1996). He is a regular contributor to the Reconciling Ministries Network blog. Gil was recently elected to the national board of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
Marilyn is a white writer, community organizer, and presently the development director at the Myrna Loy Center, a nationally renowned performing and media arts center located in Helena, Montana. She is the author of What Happened in San Antonio (Globe Pequot Press, 2006) and co-author of We Were Baptized Too: Claiming God’s Grace for Lesbians and Gays (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). She has an ongoing blog at www.marilynbennett.com.