Despite the significant progress we have made in this country to legalize gay marriage, there is still deep seeded bigotry that exists among many people. Illustrating this sad fact is a pastor for New Hope Ministries who refused to show the proper respect to the late Vanessa Collier and perform her funeral service…because she was gay.
As hundreds of Collier’s friends and family were gathered around her open casket to mourn her loss, Pastor Ray Chavez at New Hope Ministries who was overseeing her funeral, suddenly decided to stop the services. According to the Denver Post, Chavez proceeded to tell the family that the funeral could not continue because the images of affection between Collier and her wife in the memorial video were strictly forbidden in the church.
The pastor told the family that in order for the services to continue, they had to edit the video and take out the pictures which showed that Vanessa was gay, but obviously the family refused.
Outraged by the turn of events, Vanessa’s family and friends took the flowers and even the casket itself to another funeral home which happened to be across the street where they were able to continue the services.
Insulted by the church’s actions, Collier’s wife conveyed her frustrations on her Facebook page:
I would of completely understand if we were asking to be married there and it would be a conflict of interest. I’m not asking anyone to go against their own beliefs and religion. I only hoped we could find a house of God to celebrate my beautiful wife and her life (HER WHOLE LIFE) and lay her to rest in God’s arms. Is it too much to ask for?
Coincidentally, two days before the funeral, Vanessa Collier’s family turned in all videos, pictures, and music for editing purposes as instructed by the church. The family turned in everything on time and even paid $400 in advance to the church for the services. So when the moment came when Pastor Chavez made the announcement and stopped the proceedings, the family was shocked.
The family spokesperson Jose Silva told The Daily Beast, that the church had prior knowledge of the photos when they submitted the video for editing. In reality, Pastor Ray Chavez did not even look at the video until right before the funeral had started. To make things even worse Joe Silva says that New Hope Ministries did not even bother to return the funeral money back to the family.
Jose Silva continues to question why the family should have to edit the video; it’s as if they are editing her whole life story. “What, is the family supposed to edit out her kids too?”
On Tuesday, January 13th, Silva organized a protesting rally of about 50 people by the ministry. The advocates carried signs such as: “indignity in death” and “you will not find Jesus at New Hope, but you will find hypocrisy.” As protesters would cross the streets, people approached them telling them that they were going to Hell.
The Facebook page supporting the protest also received a tremendous amount of negativity and pure hate. Silva explained to the public that the family just wants an apology from the church as well as Pastor Ray Chavez, who has yet to talk to the press about the issue.
Watch a report about the incident below via NBC 9 News:
H/T: NBC 9 News | Image via screengrab from NBC 9 News report