Did some digging about the controversial decision made by New Hope Ministries of Lakewood, Colorado to cancel the funeral of a lesbian right before the funeral was about to begin. You can read about it here:
New Hope Ministries and others like it are churches that I am pretty familiar with, since I spent a good part of my graduate school years following ministries like this. The churches have rehabilitation homes attached to them where they are, as New Hope’s website says: “A center of Hope with hands of Mercy.” The church did not have any comment on the controversy on their website:
In my experience, these rehabilitation ministries are problematic for several reasons: First, they do not have professional staff who oversee the complex physical and emotional turmoil of drug withdrawal, preferring to leave the whole process to a Pentecostal experience of divine healing. Second, they often promote from within. For example, a person, who came through the rehab home, can become a church helper, then an evangelist, and eventually a pastor, without much training outside the church’s in-house bible studies and ministerial training. This helps these churches secure their identity as uniquely qualified to help the marginalized, which is very important in these settings.
The problem here, is that Collier had friends, lots of them, outraged at the denial, even in her death, of any kind of dignity from an institution that historically and today, has little use for LGBT folks.
Pastor Ray Chavez, nor anyone at the church has any further comment on this most distasteful display. One would assume that Chavez and New Hope is hoping this controversy will go away. But this crass and classless act continues to do more harm than good in what so far is a clumsy, uneven, and often disingenuous attempt in corners of the evangelical/Pentecostal world to proclaim themselves as tolerant allies–a hollow proclamation when children cannot bury their mother in peace.