You have to hand it to Jim Swilley. A difficult decision to come out to his church, but he did so boldly and without excuses. He writes to his congregation that he doesn’t have to recant his old beliefs, or ask forgiveness for any of his old messages. “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.” He hit the ground running when he came out, producing a video of his sermon, “A Real Message to Real People.” Read his blog announcement here–it’s brilliant.
When Jim came out, it was unscripted, and happened during a service. But the service was taped and you can watch the sermon here. It’s beautiful.
My hat goes off to Jim Swilley. That he was so bold, so courageous and became unapologetically gay and christian. For our world we need more like him. And I know there are more pastors and more folks serving in churches who are gay, and their transitions may not be as easy, but they will be as valued, and as important to the ministry of all peoples.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said. And when you come out, you help everyone–those who need LGBT people in their lives, those who are LGBT people, and those who have family and friends who are LGBT. All of us need to hear that God loves us. And when we see love and tenderness coming from the church, to anyone, we can’t help but be affected positively. Conversely, if we see bigotry and withdrawal coming from a church, our hearts shrink in proportion.
So thank you Jim Swilley! It is your bigness of gesture and the bigness of your church’s response that swells up our own hearts in love and celebration!