The Denver Post is reporting that Ray Chavez, a minister in Lakewood, Colorado, refused to perform a memorial service for a 33-year-old woman, Vanessa Collier, last Saturday. Her friends and family say it’s because she was gay.
A Facebook event for today, January 13, was created to rally protestors:
“Dignity in Death Rally for our friend Vanessa Collier…PROTEST AGAINST PASTOR RAY CHAVEZ AND NEW HOPE MINISTRIES”
Please join the Family and Friends of Vanessa Collier as we demand respect and dignity in her death. Vanessa was disrespected at what was to be a time to celebrate her life.
Pastor Ray Chavez and New Hope Ministries Cancelled the funeral of our friend 15 minutes after it was to have begin. He refused to allow her alternative life style video of her life be shown and kicked us out of the church. Her casket was open, flowers laid out and hundreds of people sitting in the pews. He collected money for the funeral and has yet to return it.
We ask all that stand with the LGBT community and those against bigotry to join us tomorrow as we hold a press conference to discuss the disgusting actions of this church.”
Approximately four dozen family members and friends protested outside the church on Tuesday and carried signs that read:
“You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy.
“Indignity in death”
“Give us an apology!”
Security guards stood guard in front of the church.
Friends and family of Vanessa reported that because Chavez would not perform the service, they had to move the service across the street to a different funeral home. The Pallbearers carried her casket to a Hearse where it was then transported. Attendees carried the flowers they brought.
“A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening?” said Jeanette Arguello, a family friend.
A representative for New Hope Ministries declined to comment before hanging up on a Denver Post Reporter.
Vanessa Collier passed away suddenly in late December leaving behind her wife and children. Those close to her said it was “unexpected” and didn’t want to discuss the exact cause.