Lakewood Church: Pastor Denies Funeral Service To Deceased Because She Was Gay

A Lakewood church in Colorado is under fire right now due to denying a deceased woman a funeral because she was gay. The New Hope Ministry was apparently not pleased with images of Vanessa Collier kissing Christina Higley, the wife she left behind, and that seemed to bring about their objection to her funeral.

9 News reported that the funeral for Collier was actually cancelled by the Lakewood church about 15 minutes after it was scheduled to begin. The church would not allow a picture of Collier proposing to Higly to be shown.

At the time of the cancellation, the open casket of Vanessa Collier was present with numerous displays of flowers as close to 170 people sat in attendance.

“Her casket was open, flowers laid out and hundreds of people sitting in the pews,” supporters said in a Facebook post. “He collected money for the funeral and has yet to return it.”

That post comes from a page supporting the “Dignity In Death” rally for Collier, who died on Dec. 29, 2014, leaving behind her wife and two children.

According to the Denver Post, numerous demonstrators gathered around outside with picket signs, demanding an apology. Signs delivered all sorts of messages as security guards stood strong outside of the Lakewood church.

“You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy,” read one sign.

Friends and family members moved the funeral across the street to the Newcomer Funeral Home, where the funeral was presided over by Chaplain Gary Rolando. The Chaplain says New Hope welcomes those that are gay into the church, but asks that their “alternative lifestyle” be censored in the church.

Pastor Ray Chavez was the minister residing over at New Hope Church on the day that the funeral for Collier was to take place. A representative for the Lakewood church has refused to comment.

This situation is drawing the ire of many people in Colorado and around the country. Rex Fuller, a spokesman for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Colorado says it’s just “tragic.”

“If the story is true, it truly is appalling that a family would have to go through this. It’s just a really tragic situation.”

Friends of Collier said that her death in late December was “unexpected,” but family members did not want to speak on the cause of her passing.

Chaplain Rolando has said that he thinks it is a shame that the friends of Vanessa Collier are using her death as a way to “push an agenda.” Still, he knows they are angry and saw that by the amount that showed up to protest the Lakewood church for denying her funeral.

[Image via the Denver Post — Craig Walker]