Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Making It Plain

First of all, I want to thank everyone again for the amazing outpouring of love and support expressed over the last couple of weeks here on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and through countless texts, calls, letters and e-mail(s). Really, I just can’t stress enough how grateful I am for your kindness, and I want you to know that it has been quite gratifying to make so many new friends through this time of transition, and to hear from so many old and cherished ones concerning recent developments.

The magnitude of the events of the last few days has been somewhat unexpected, and, frankly, a little overwhelming. I certainly had no idea that the message I delivered to CITN in a Wednesday night service a couple of weeks ago would garner the attention (and the reaction) that it has, worldwide, but I have been blessed to read hundreds - maybe thousands - of responses to it that confirm to me that I did the right thing in letting it go public.

But because so much has been said in recent days about my/our story in the media and on the internet, I feel it’s necessary that I address a few things, and maybe clear up a few other things…so here goes…


ABOUT THE VIDEO

I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that the response to the video (“A Real Message to Real People”) has been astounding, but, had I thought beforehand that it was going to become so high profile, I might have phrased a few things that I said on it differently. My apologies to anyone who was offended by anything that was stated, but I just said what was on my heart, with no script, or preconceived idea of what I was going say. I feel very passionate about certain things, and those of you who know me know that I communicate exactly what I feel about things that really matter to me. The video is what it is, but my prayer is that the spirit of the message delivered would be heard louder than the letter of it.


ABOUT CHURCH IN THE NOW

I obviously will always remain the founder of CITN, and, as of right now, I am still its Senior Pastor. I have no plans to leave the ministry that I birthed some 25 years ago. It is my life's work, and even if the property on I-20 were to be vacated by us, the ministry of CITN would still go on. And the only reason that would happen would be in the event there were some sort of mass exodus from the church, leaving us without sufficient supporters, but, as of yet I see no indication of that happening. The spirit and presence of the Lord is still evident in all of our services, the people are strong and committed, and we are still making an impact on our community and on the world.


But I was candid on the video about the current state of things, and the truth is that we definitely need to grow in numbers to be able to financially maintain what we've built. But that's in God's hands now. When I said in the interview with Diana Davis on WSB that we would start over, if necessary, I meant that Church In The Now would move to another location, if need be. For me, best-case scenario would be for us to remain in Conyers, and to thrive as "Real People Experiencing the Real God in the Real World". I personally would love to see all of the prophecies spoken over these 43 acres across the years by so many anointed people finally come to pass.

But the church isn't a building, nor is it physical property, so if we have to move on from the current location, we would still always continue to go from glory to glory as a body of believers.



ABOUT THE MINISTRY

It was reported in several papers that I would no longer be referred to as “Bishop”, but as “Pastor”, but that’s not correct. I should say here that I’m certainly not obsessive about titles, so it really doesn’t matter all that much to me what I'm called (no man gave me my call and anointing, and no man can take it away from me). But the term “Bishop” is simply an administrative title that just means “overseer” or “pastor to pastors”, and I am still that to the many Pastors at Church In The Now, as well as to the ones who remain affiliated with Now Ministries in the United States, the Philippines, and Uganda.

I have, indeed, willingly stepped down from the College of Bishops of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, and am no longer affiliated with that organization. I am currently in dialogue with another international network/fellowship concerning possible ordination/affiliation, but I’ll wait to say more about that later as relationship with them develops.

I do want to say, however, that I have no issue or negative feelings whatsoever toward the ICCC, or its presiding Bishop, David Huskins. The ICCC does great work all around the world, and has and always will have my full respect. I also want to say that, contrary to what has been reported online, Bishop Huskins has personally assured me that he has never done an interview about me with any Christian watchdog group, and has never said, publicly or privately, that I am "unfit to lead".


ABOUT THE MESSAGE

I think it's important to point out that my main message is and always has been one of love, grace, and tolerance. Church In The Now has been a multicultural/multi ethnic/ecumenical community since its inception, and, as such, has established a long-standing reputation as being a bridge builder among belief systems and people groups. It is neither a white church, nor a black church - it is a church for all people - so it will not become, now or ever, a "gay" church. CITN is inclusive because we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, demands that we be...and that Gospel is simply the Good News that GOD IS LOVE, demonstrated through the Christ, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that the lifestyle demands made by the Gospel are summed up in two basic and proactive commandments: (1) Love God (2) Love people. That's all. Church In The Now will always be a place that embraces the truth of the real Gospel, and the simplicity that is in Christ.

That being said, let me add that, as controversial as my recent announcement about myself may be to some, I at least have not had to work through any credibility issues, or do any damage control concerning my message. I have never one time in nearly 39 years of preaching said a derogatory or condemning word about people with same-sex attraction. An in-depth search can be made through my books, or through decades-worth of tapes, CDs, DVDs, or manuscripts of my sermons, and there will be no evidence of the preaching of condemnation found.


ABOUT THE MEDIA

Concerning any negative things written about me online, which are mostly done by conservative Christian or Evangelical groups or watchdog organizations, I can only say that it comes with the territory, and I'm used to it. I have no desire to defend myself, or to argue the Scriptures with those who would not be open to anything I would have to say. Integrity can't be proven, it must be discerned.

I've been discussed on blogs and websites for years because of my inclusive theology, and because of the spotlight being on my family for some time because of my uncle, Bishop Earl Paulk, who died nearly two years ago. Usually, any negative article about me begins by making the connection with him, and, even though I don't understand why that connection is germane to my story, I guess it makes it more interesting to some.

I do want to say, however, that I understand that to those who come from a certain apocalyptic/fatalistic theological background, someone like me saying what I've said publicly represents a dangerous trend...a "sign of the times", as they see it. I really understand that because I came from that same tradition. All I can say to my Christian detractors is, if you think I'm deceived or dangerous, then please pray for me. I am your brother, whether you receive me or not, and I choose to love you and believe that your intentions are good, at least in your own minds.


ABOUT THE FUTURE

Jesus said to take no thought for tomorrow, so I am simply living my life one day at a time, believing that my steps are ordered. Again, to those who may have been hurt or offended by recent revelations about me, I can only tell you to keep your eyes on God. Never put any minister, including me, on a pedestal...worship God alone. To those of you in my life who are committed to standing by me, no matter what, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your faithfulness and understanding of covenant. To those of you whom I've never met...those who have sent thousands upon thousands of messages of love and support...I must tell you that you have shown me a side to the love of God I never even knew existed (and that goes for all of the atheists and agnostics who have sent me beautiful messages of support, as well!)...I may not ever meet all of you in person, but I really love each and every one of you so much, and think you're all just wonderful.

In the last few days I've been called both a hero and heretic. I don't believe that I am either. At the end of the day, all that really matters to me is what God thinks and says about me, and that is between Him and me.

Peace and love to all of you...and I really mean all of you!

51 comments:

Birdie said...

Amen! I thank God for the privilege of knowing your story and being able to share it. Continued prayers for you and yours.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing man. The class and fearlessness you've shown over the past few weeks are such a testamet to your character. I'm so proud to tell anyone that will listen that CITN is my home.

Have a great evening..Holly A.

Avatar said...

“that the spirit of the message delivered would be heard louder than the letter of it...” Hmmm...the many great people of God, in the cloud of witnesses, and currently here on earth, share the same sentiment about their words--(smile).

As any who are regulars here know, your choice of accompanying art, Bishop, often speaks as loud as or sometimes louder than your words. The “God is Love” pic is my new favorite...for all its diversity and perfection in its “imperfection”...and because it emphasizes an extraordinarily beautiful paragraph.

Anonymous said...

Your WORD is uplifting and truly appreciated by me. Positive and forward thinking.

Northern Light said...

Again...Eloquent, Sincere, Honest, Real, YOU ! Bish~ if you never speak another word on this topic, between the Wednesday night dvd or website to view, and this Blog (which would hear well as a CD...if you chose to record it)...there would/should be no wiggle room for error, misquote or lies.

Simply said, I think you've done well,said more and explained thoroughly and honestly to your people. That's more than many would, but that's YOU!! Giving more. And timing was HIS & yours to give...not when and what "people" want.

Nuff said ~ I, along with many others, love you and we ain't goin anywhere.

Peace,
Northern Light

(feels like home......)ahhh

Sheri Travis said...

Never have I heard a man speak like you... I thank God for allowing us to be a part of this LOVE movement with you. I love what you have written today, but I was ITB that Weds.night and I've watched the video numerous times and I thought what you said was perfect. I've never in my life have felt the tangible presence of LOVE that was in the room that night. You were AMAZING! You were REAL! I'm so glad you didn't have a script...you spoke from your heart. Gary and I left that night with so much love,pride,respect, support,etc...I could keep going but you already know! Every interview has been AMAZING! The mainstream media gets you, gets us! Last Saturday night I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest just thinking about how we needed to get to church early. I could see cars backed up on both sides of Iris drive just waititng to pull into our beautiful campus...The world is starving for you! You give words of life!
Thank you sir! Thank you sir!Thank you sir!
BTW- I haven't read one negative thing about you or CITN! Why???Cause I choose not to...Too busy reading all the amazing comments on your FB wall and "Fan page"(hehehe j/k...just cuz u were so nervous some dumba** would get the wrong idea about a FAN PAGE) and because in my head I'm the female version of EB, & I know any negative comments would make the christ jump right out of me and I would be ready to fight. :)
Love,
Sher

Debye said...

Brilliant Bish!...what an honor it is to call you friend, pastor, co-creator, father of my sons, beautiful ex-spouse, & what an honor it is to serve in this thing called life with you!...

We ARE being the change that we want to see!...Lovin me some u!

david & tracy said...

My thoughts are this-You are Truth-You are Brave -You are Honest and YOU MAKE ME BETTER=YOU MAKE US BETTER---if that is wrong I guess we will just be wrong. You challenged us to live an authentic life, no mask. I welcome the challenge -it is refreshing and I believe you are making THIS World a better place. I know you are making our World a better place...Peace be with you.

Eddie said...

Loved this blog, Bish! You are a treasure to me and the truest of friends. Love and support you fully. Eddie B.

Mystic aka Patti said...

Had a terrific Real Women meeting tonight…that co-Pastor of yours is something FIERCE! What a wonderful expression of Love she is…

So glad you decided to post (re-post?) this, Bish. I know how strongly you feel about making things plain so everyone can understand and I think this will provide additional information for anyone who needs or wants it.

Since before your announcement, I have felt (and blogged/spoken about) something brewing in the Spirit…something HUGE. I had no idea what God would use as the impetus for this occurrence, but I just watched and waited…now it has begun and the feeling has turned to great excitement and hope…more than I’ve had in a long time. The RW meeting tonight just kicked it up a notch.

The feeling is such an exciting one! I just can’t find another word to describe it…it’s like when I was a child on Christmas Eve and the night before a trip to Six Flags all rolled into one. It must feel like this for stunt people who stand on the precipice of a building and jump into an airbag or the rush when a skydiver takes that first step out the door of the plane…only there are a huge number of us all doing it together! We hear the click click click of the cars of the roller coaster being pulled to the edge of the first GIANT hill and we raise our hands in the air…AND SNAP!

I have no idea what comes next…but I’m glad we’re all here and we’re all part of this AWESOME wave of Love taking the world by storm! What an amazing time to be alive! What an awesome time to be part of CITN!

Watch and Pray CITN...we're in the eye of the hurricane and it's only just begun!

Blessings Blog Fam!

Erik said...

Bishop, it is between you and God, That is true for all of us, and I am so psyched for you to point it out again. Some say ‘hero’ others say ‘heretic’, you walk with both and know who you really are. Rudyard agrees.

I want to share with whomever is reading – when I first came to CITN in July of 2000, it was by an unusual set of circumstances. I did not live in GA then, I lived in CA. After the service, my wife to be and I decided to move here. What we experienced was several different groups of people, - socially, ethnically, racially, and spiritually all together praising God, enjoying each other and enjoying God.
That was all we needed to move East. Neither one of us had experienced that in a church before and were hoping for it.

That is what CITN is. All are welcome. Taking a phrase from another church in Nashville, ‘Whosever will’ is welcome. That is what God is all about. Whosever will receive and enjoy, come one come all, no matter what the world or social systems deem accepted or not, -come on in- All Come.

I think about the parable in which many were invited to a party of a respected person. Most excused themselves for various reasons. The party giver had everything set, and sent the help to invite people (mostly ‘strangers’) from the town and streets to come to the party that so many had declined. That to me is what CITN is in essence. The place where All are welcome and those who ‘could’ have seen the value and raw celebration skipped because of their own vanity and fear.

There is no thought, idea, action that is unknown. All is out in the open, so nothing to judge or fear. Those that know that we all are free from the walls others raise to hide what is plainly visible. No fear, no pain, no shame.

Just celebrating life, love, and God. CITN is a place that does this. There are others inside and out of so called religion. I am here and remain here. The connections that are increasing throughout All groups is real and a realization of what The Universe has expressed through you. I get to be a part and that is a hoot. CIT N is a nexus of many connections. Enjoy. I do as a part of it.

Just before posting this I saw Patti’s comment. Yeah, jumping out of a plane is awesome fun, any demons one has stay in the plane, and say “This guy is crazy, we can find others who stay in the plane’. Been there, it is awesome and crazy – who jumps out of a perfectly good plane ? –Me, because the trip down is sooooo much more fun that way.

Karen and I love you, CITN, and everyone, connected or not, and share in particular the fun of those who are and will be.

Anonymous said...

Speaking Spirit said...

Bish, You are the father I never knew, the leader I can only imagine because you are leading God's way, the love way. How courageous are you to lay your life down for the sheep, for the future, for the body. You are the word made flesh...dwelling among us...keepin' it real. Yes, the multitudes are set free, free from fakin' it. I would have never thought it, never did I imagine someone wired "differently" can be all things to us all. I bless you and I love you although this truly blesses me, it stresses me. You are changing the world, one salvation at the time...Oh, how he loves you and oh, how He loves,,,,,,Thank you for your love and courage. I know why we call you Bish, a pastors pastor.

Speaking Spirit

Ernest L Sewell, IV said...

Hi Bishop, it's Ernest Sewell from Facebook. Can you drop me an email about possibly coming on my radio show? One of the next couple of Thursdays (before Thanksgiving) would be great, but those aren't the only days I have open. I hope you are doing well, and have great people around you. You are effecting good change in the world.

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, Ernest...I don't have your address...

Erik said...

Tomorrow, we enjoy another time together sharing our love for all of God and all people.

Anonymous said...

You have heard it said that Holy Spirit is our GPS - an internal guidance system for each of us...
I say that the Creator of ALL is our UPS - uninterrupted power supply...

Tap into your unique potential this amazing day as our GPS operates by virtue of our UPS that is the true essence of our core and leads us into the restoration of all things...

Have a Big Day in this Reality In The Now...

Anonymous said...

In the words of the Beatles - Let It BE...

From Daily OM:

Today you may be feeling idealistic, leading you to spend time fantasizing about a world in which everyone is healthy and at peace. You may also be imagining your life under the same circumstances and enjoying the notion of what you would do if you had everything you desired. Though this may seem impractical and romantic, it is actually the right way to go about identifying your true goals. By removing all the obstacles you normally would consider, you clear the way to find what lies at the core of your being. Then you know your ultimate direction and have the information you need to navigate around the obstacles and challenges of the real world. By spending time in idealistic fantasy today, you begin to create your ideal world.

Once we've identified the ideals, we can begin to translate them into the material world. By looking at the underlying values that our dreams point to, we can create it in our lives now. For example, if our dream is to enjoy the freedom of cruising the world in a yacht, we know that we want freedom, travel, and to be near the water. We can make the choice to take a sailing class, begin to plan a trip, or look for work that involves travel, such as on a cruise ship. The world is full of challenges, but the only real limitations are the ones you accept. Today you let your idealistic fantasies guide the way to a truly fulfilling life.

wwilloww said...

You are brave, a powerful voice for the Lord, a speaker of Truth, and a bridge builder. I honor and respect your calling and your ministry of reconciliation. I wish I were back in GA to be an in-person support of you and CITN but for now, know that you are loved and respected worldwide!

KT said...

Let me say this first: You've done a wonderful thing.

I have many gay loved ones, and I don't know what I'd do if they were bullied into hurting themselves. Someone in your position coming out sends a powerful message to anyone who is struggling.

I visited your church once, purely out of curiosity. I'm an atheist. To be perfectly honest, I thought it seemed like just another money-making scam. But now you've given me something to think about.

Not1Lost said...

Bishop, I am proud to call you "My Bishop" "My Pastor" and "My Friend" I really mean that. The resent developments have not shaken that one bit. If anything I respect you more than ever.
Peace,
P Dennis

Anonymous said...

Freedom from fear and shame! There is nothing in life that feels better. This is a new beginning and I suggest, (even though you didn't ask), that you take time for Jim, make time for Jim, love on Jim, and just keep loving and accepting Jim. You are awesome!

From a 54 year old California man with a similar story.

Stonehenge Radio Show said...

You have my respect and best wishes.

Erik said...

All are ONE. It IS all good. Everyone of ourselves we see,know of, hear of, conceive are approved of by the Creator.

It is self evident in our existence. Fear not, all is known and all is clear. Everyone is safe and saved.

Relax and enjoy. We are ALL agreed.

Marquita said...

As I sit and type this comment, I have no idea the words that will follow but here it goes: Bishop, you are exactly as God created you and you were chosen to lead this ministry not by happenstance. God is never coincidental. God is all-consuming, all-knowing, and LOVE. Pure, no-strings attached, LOVE. Your truth is inconvenient to the world but that is all. For 25 years you have lead those that were READY to follow to a God beyond our most incomprehensible dreams. A God that makes no mind of the condemnation man would place upon man. A God that Loves Us because He Created Us - PERIOD. I've been a member of CITN for 10 years. I now have two boys - 4 and 2 and we will be in church on Sunday. And the Sunday after that, and so on and so forth. There is something much bigger that is happening here. CITN has always been about Forward movement. God will see to it that CITN remains forever moving Forward. "You make all things new and I will follow you Forward..."

Anonymous said...

Pastor of 2,000: Your life's story is mine; but I don't have your current strength, wish I did. I will continue to follow you in prayer.

Erik said...

An inconvenient Bishop with an inconvenient truth – All means All.

Love God, yourself, and all others the same. Simple, ancient truths.

The Church, or Ecclesia, The “we” in ‘Let us make people in our own image’ includes every single one of Us. Patrick, thank you for your time Monday and your words re – ‘I am’, ‘We are’. This is the Ecclesia. All are welcome and All created specifically as G-d is. Each is created as a creator here in this ‘sandbox’ to learn to create, as Elohim does. To breathe, exude life.

Doctrines, dogmas, rites fail to animate Elohim. Each of Us is Elohim, and Elohim expresses through each of Us, at times inconveniently for some. Each of Us expresses G-d.

The gay issue has been a lightning rod for many, especially in the Abrahamic faiths. Many in Abrahamic faiths have feared it, misunderstood it. This is a part of G-d, and is real and purposefully created. The only other issue that seems to get as much reaction is if one is a Jew, Christian, or Muslim. G-d created, on purpose and with Love, each subset of Abrahamic paradigms as well. The paradigm that is Jewish was drawn to the experience of Moses, The paradigm that is Christian, was drawn to the experience of Jesus. The paradigm that is Muslim was drawn to Muhammad. Each created by G-d, validated by G-d, lived through by G-d, on purpose. All equally valid. As all religious paradigms are and as All people are.
Fear not Abrahamics, G-d is more wonderful and complete than any one of us can imagine. All of us together see G-d.

G-d is neither male or female and both simultaneously. G-d is plant, animal, Earth, and each person simultaneously. Each of us is being taught by G-d to create. All that is created and embodied through each person is what is referred to as The Christ. In All, through All.

This includes All that may be inconvenient, G-d is NOT convenient, G-d is uncontainable, indefinable, and excellent just as S/He is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sir.
As a pastor for many years, one who's gone through divorce over this very issue and who is no longer in the ministry, I wish that I had the grace to take the bold, loving and inclusive stand that you have taken.
Born and raised by a Pentecostal preacher, I internalized the feelings of not fitting in, not being accepted. Even as a minister, I struggled with the concept that God could love me. My years in the pulpit were fruitful as I shared of a God of mercy and inclusion - A God who always selected the unexpected folk to accomplish great things.
I pray that God will continue to use you as an agent of grace in the lives of many.

All the best to you and those that you love.

timeisnow100@yahoo.com

Jim Gilbert said...

"Let God be God and every man a liar"...
Thank you. Bishop, for your bravery in the face of adversity; those "detractors" that you mentioned are more than likely threatened by something that they see in themselves rather than what they see in you; that is true most of the time, when it comes to personal attack and vengfulness. I am also a gay Christain man who has suffered much at the hands of Church fathers and all I say to them is, walk a mile in my shoes and then let's have an intelligent conversation. Again....Thank you for your honesty; in days to come, you will see God use you and what you had to say in an even greater way.

Karl Cobos said...

Hey bish,
It's been a number of days since I've been here, but was thinking of the blog a lot...glad to see it is still here, glowing, and growing.

Good to see your words and the support of others.

One day Joy Behar...next, Larry King? ..all things are possible, and you are living in some of that right now, huh?

Anonymous said...

Mystic aka Patti said...

It's so amazing to watch as the prophecies given begin to come to pass. We are definitely doing something for which there is no template...no pattern...no trail to follow. As the Body of CITN follows Bish and our leadership as they follow Christ, we all blaze a new trail. This NEW thing is exciting, challenging, and oh so Christlike. I cannot put words to what I am experiencing as a part of the CITN Body, but I know what Joy feels like...and I have seen what the glory of God looks like. I see it every time we come together and worship and learn. I have never been here before...this is NOT "church as usual." This is about BEING LOVE...this is about BEING The Christ to the world...this is about DOING what I am called to do...to BE SALT and LIGHT in the world. I have been plenty salty in my life but this is a NEW DAY. I feel as if the Host of Heaven is present at every CITN gathering because See more... they are just as excited about everything as we are...they eagerly await the next step Forward as we move to bring Heaven to Earth...Moving Forward...Moving Ahead...our past is definitely over and the NOW beckons to us all. While the heavenly host joins in the praises, the world watches to see if we really are REAL PEOPLE EXPERIENCING THE REAL GOD IN THE REAL WORLD...if we are Christlike...if we are BEING LOVE. Have you noticed a difference? Has your perspective/paradigm changed? Have you decided to take an active role in The Body not previously taken? Are you wondering what you should do? Have you stepped back because you don't know what your role might be? Are you struggling to gain a new perspective? If you are having some issues, it's okay...we all have them and sometimes we need assistance in coming to grips with things in our lives...with changes. God and change...the constants in life. If you have something you'd like to talk about...don't forget that we have Care Pastors willing to speak with you and to help in any way they can. We have the greatest pastors in the world right here at CITN...God has been so very gracious in sending us the most wonderful, compassionate leadership I have ever had the privilege of meeting and they are more than willing to help. Nothing in our lives should ever stay exactly the same...any attempt to make it so is manipulation. We must move with the cloud...it may not be the easiest thing to do...it is the God thing to do. Choose this day whom you shall serve...as for me and my house...we will serve the Lord...through CITN! Blessings Blog Fam!

Mystic aka Patti said...

Thank you, Bishop, for helping get my last comment posted...I was having some difficulty with the posting function. I received an error page each time and never knew if it had reached you. I had planned to try again later but when I returned it was up. Thanks...just FYI, I really do know how to use paragraphs and formatting though it does not appear that way...my bad! LOL!

God I LOVE CITN!

RMike said...

I have been a huge fan of Jared and his band (Black Lips) for a few years, and only know you through him. Your coming out video was extraordinary. Best of luck in the future to you and your awesome family.

Thomas said...

I've just found your church through your recent Real Message to Real People video. Loved it. I'm new to the UCC (United Church of Christ) but if you're looking for a new home they sound a lot like you... some of their themes are "God is Still Speaking" and "No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." Check them out!

Erik said...

Dewdrops on Roses , flannel sheets in winter,
James Bond intros, and God in ALL of us,
Love of myself and God and all beings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

All color of life and connection with God.
Amaretto with hot baths along with bikinis,
Wild eagles that fly with God on their wings,
These are a few of my favorite things,

Women in sundresses with sunlit background,
Each snowflake created anew like each person,
God’s consuming fire in all that we sing,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the doubt grows,
When my love’s slow,
When I’m feeling sad.
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I do feel so glad.

Erik said...

Was thinkin’ today.

When they give you those security questions on websites like “ Who is your childhood hero” or “Who would you be of any historical person” or “ Who is your favorite celebrity”…. I always answer ‘me’.

Who else could I ever want to be, see as a hero, or as my favorite celebrity? If any of us wanted to be someone else, we would be, who can possibly be better than ourselves for our wants, heroes, or best selves. Ourselves are the best for us, otherwise we would be someone else. And, we ARE ourselves, which is the best.

Next time someone or a website asks who in some manner is your favorite, say yourself by name, pronoun, or some manner that you know. ‘Cause it’s true.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring, thank you for being an example of what it means to be authentic. Especially in such a position of leadership. This is the sort of thing that causes ripples in the world and spreads understanding and acceptance.

Avatar said...

Trust the Gospel...Yes!

Being an NPR listener, the Guy Raz interview is the one for which I was waiting...

...it was very cool--audaciously cool! Check out the extended version on npr.com.

Anonymous said...

Heard you speak on NPR this evening - I am touched by your struggle and your honesty. Best wishes to you - your example and kindness will make life a little bit better for gay people and our families. Peace to you.

Paul L said...

I just heard your interview on NPR, and was greatly impressed. It can take a lot of courage to be your true self--God bless you for your courage! As you are probably finding, it is an extremely liberating experience.

There are many followers of the Lord of Love whose fear impels them to be cruel and judgmental. So when things get difficult, you may find some strength in words that have been echoing in my heart for many years, now. A still, small voice once spoke in my ear, when I was praying about being gay: "I did not make you gay as a punishment. I made you gay as My gift to you and to the world."

It took years to learn how to live into that, but walking with the Lord has been an adventure, every step of the way. God bless you on your journey!

ellengoblue said...

Thank goodness for NPR! I just heard your interview in the car. I ran inside because all I wanted to do was find you on the web and Thank you!!!!! I am so tired of the anti-gay rhetoric in this country, especially from those who profess to follow Jesus. GOD is love. Same sex attraction is found even in some animal species. It has been with mankind from the beginning. Thank you for stepping up and helping others find a way in their heart to understand that they need not be out of GOD to love those whom GOD has put out of the closet. I have stood up with my gay friends since college. The idea that they are some how less makes me sick to my stomach because I know they are not less, in some cases they are more for having to carry on despite living in a hostile culture. You have done GOD's work and you have helped those who don't know how to get out of the closet. Blessings to you sir!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I'm another person who heard you on NPR and was so, so moved. Blessings on you and on Debbie (what an amazing woman!).

I believe that by telling the truth, you have saved lives. Thank you so much for your honesty and your Christian witness. I will hold you and your family in my prayers.

Your sister in Christ,
Frances

Bear Me Out said...

As another pastor who has come out to his congregation, welcome. Authenticity feels a lot better, doesn't it. The Truth is the only thing that will set us free.
Blessings & Cheers,

Emily said...

I am so humbled by the spirit of gay teens like Tyler Clementi who recently took their own lives. Though their deaths are tragic and unjust, I am so thankful that people like you, Mr. Swilley, have taken their deaths to heart and put your foot down to say "enough is enough!" Your choice to come forward in the face of great personal cost is truly inspiring and I can only hope that your courageous decision will be felt by others who have been silenced in this bigoted and homophobic society. I truly believe that your confession WILL save lives and I hope, more than anything, that you will continue with your ministry, sharing the message that you have been called to share. Words can not express how thankful I am to have heard your message tonight. Best of luck to you, your family, and your congregation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You are an incredible person, and an inspiration to the world. I hope that one day I may be as brave as you have been. Thank you both for being brave enough to tell the world who you are, and for reminding teens like me that there is nothing wrong with us.

Angela said...

I came across your video today via a Facebook post from a friend. I probably identify best as agnostic with a healthy dose of secular skepticism, but your inclusive message and bravery really touched me to the core. It made me remember what I loved so much about my church experiences as a child -- namely the fact that, every week, I had the opportunity to listen to a gifted public speaker reflect on some of the central emotional/moral issues people struggle with on a day-to-day basis. I miss that. I often feel adrift these days as someone whose moral compass points to love and inclusiveness but who is perpetually surrounded by people who are deeply judgmental and cynical. Your message was a breath of fresh air.

Trasherati said...

I heard your interview on CNN via internet..thank you for sharing. Your perspective is the only reasoned Christian one I've ever heard. Your comments actually have opened up my heart to the Bible's words. You have my respect, and I admire your grace.

lme0045 said...

I just heard your story on NPR - just wanted to let you know how much your story has meant to me. I am not gay but I'm a Christian who believes the mainstream Christain attitude toward the GLBT community is full of hate and ultimately sinful. I believe your step is brave and does so much to heal the hurt caused be the church.

Blessings and Peace,

Lauren

Pamm said...

God bless you and may He continue to grant you the strength and courage that has no doubt carried you through the leg of your journey.

I am a straight woman from Los Angeles, CA who had never heard of you or your church but I believe when Jesus said to "Love your neighbor", he meant it. There were no astericks.

God IS love. May he stay close to you.

aluzaluna said...

Dear Bishop Jim Swilley,

Please accept my humble prayers for you - may you always be protected and safe, may you always have the strength and courage to remain true to yourself, and may your faith thrive in the face of adversity.

I send my gratitude to you for your genuine courage to speak your truth while embracing your faith. You are an example to many - may every blessing be yours.

In spirit and in love, Cristina

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Though I am a devout atheist (and heterosexual), when I heard you speak of your struggle with the truth of your life and your soul, and when I saw the grace with which you did it, I wept with joy. I was so proud of you, as an example of a fine person of faith, that I almost wished I still believed in a God, just so I could be a member of your congregation. Thank you for being a voice of compassion, reason, and LOVE in what often seems to be a vast wilderness of hate and self-righteousness. I wish you, your family, and your flock all the best.

And I promise, if I ever change my mind about being a believer, yours will be the first church I come back to. Keep up the good work.

jimpage363 said...

God bless you. Being true to oneself in all facets of one's life is not easy. I wish you and your family all the love and support you will need through these trying times.

I write as a straight woman, as a Reform Jew and as a person of faith who truly believes that God loves us each as we have been created - in God's image.