Vanessa Collier was just thirty-three years old when she died last month, leaving behind a wife and children, and a family who just wanted a simple funeral for her. So they contacted the New Hope Ministries in Denver, and arranged to have a service; they even gave the church a memorial video to be played during the ceremony.
But the church lost the video, and asked for a second copy, and then asked the family to edit the video, removing a clip showing Vanessa Collier kissing her wife, Christina Higley, because, you know, love and lesbians and God.
Pastor — and why these not very Christ-like people call themselves pastors is fodder for another blog post — Gary Rolando, told the family:
"We don't want overt, open homosexuality in our sanctuary."
Then he added that he knew the family, loved the family, knew the deceased — her name is Vanessa, by the way, “Pastor” — and that she led an, ahem, 'alternative' lifestyle. I guess by ‘alternative’ he meant that she treated everyone the same regardless of their sexual orientation.
When the family learned that the church wanted the kiss edited from the video, they naturally refused, so on the day of the funeral, moments before it was to begin, New Hope Ministries canceled it, citing ‘technical difficulties.’
Now, to his credit, and mind you, it’s very little credit, Pastor Rolando did conduct the funeral service at another church — since they don’t bury gays at New Hope — though there was no explanation about those alleged difficulties; “Pastor” Ray Chavez [left], the founder of New Hope Ministries, refused to explain why the service was canceled so suddenly, but Rolando blamed a visiting funeral director, saying "the funeral director on that day came from a different funeral home in the chain, and wasn't familiar with New Hope's policies."
Hmmmmm, church policies? What might those be? Love one another? That policy? Judge not lest ye be judged? That one? Or maybe it’s the policy that if two women share a kiss on a memorial video then you can refuse to bury one of them? That policy?
Rolando has since said:
"I'm sorry this happened the way it did. New Hope is very sorry... It's very sad that it happened the way that it did."
Well, “Pastor,” it wouldn’t have happened that way if the leaders of the church, the “pastors” of the church weren’t bigots and homophobes, eh? It wouldn’t have happened that way if the “pastors” of the church simply believed that God is love and that God loves everyone, and it’s only the “pastors” at New Hope that hate.
God is watching New Hope and She is not happy.