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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Georgia Megachurch Pastor Comes Out

Queerty reports on the story of Bishop Jim Swilley in Conyers, Georgia, part of the Atlanta metro area:
Swilley, who created the Church In The Now some 25 years ago, is a divorced father of four. But he's known he's gay since he was a boy, says the Rockdale County man of the cloth, and even his wife Debye — whom he divorced earlier this year — knew when they got married (!). The couple kept it a secret for more than two decades, but Jim says Debye recently pushed him to share his story.

The pastor made the announcement to his congregation two weeks ago (yes, it takes time for some stories to trickle), with his family in the audience and decided to come out now after witnessing the rash of gay youths killing themselves. One Internet forum poster says that unlike Atlanta's Long (whom Swilley won't speak about), Swilley has not used the pulpit to denigrate gays: "For those of you familiar with Church In the Now, while never discussing his own sexuality, you know that Swilley has always preached a message of inclusion, love and abundance for all God's children. Bishop Swilley has been asked to step down as Bishop, but will remain as Pastor." (That last part we haven't confirmed.)
Swilley's Blog in the Now is here. The church's website, here.  Report by Atlanta's WSB-TV here:
So Swilley came out to his kids and his congregation. He said he knew he might risk everything, but the recent rash of gay teen suicides pushed him over the edge.  "As a father, thinking about your 16, 17 year old killing themselves. I thought somebody needed to say something," Swilley said through tears. . . .

“I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever,” Swilley said. “To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”
In this lengthy but moving video, Swilley very honestly discusses his sexuality with his congregation, and his ex-wife and others also speak; the talk gets personal beginning around the 8:00 mark.


dave said...

Only good can come of this.

Russ Manley said...

I hope so, he seems very sincere and "real" about his sexuality - unlike Ted Haggard and that ilk.

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