Vanessa Collier was a Colorado wife and mother who died tragically and unexpectedly at age 33 when her gun went off accidentally as she was cleaning it. She was also a lesbian, which is why her funeral was moved while in the midst of the service.
Collier’s friends say the funeral was canceled by Lakewood’s New Hope Ministries 15 minutes after the service was supposed to start because the church would not allow a picture to be shown of Collier proposing to her wife. The open casket and flowers were in place and about 170 people were in attendance.
According to Chaplain Gary Rolando, who would later preside over the funeral across the street at Newcomer Funeral Home, the New Hope Ministry is very community oriented. He says pastors there welcome those who are gay but ask that alternative lifestyles be censored in the church. New Hope Ministries is not commenting on the decision.
He says moments prior to the funeral service, a video that was supposed to be played during the funeral was reviewed by church officials. The church asked for the video to be edited in order to proceed. Rolando says the family refused to take the picture of Collier’s proposal out of the video, and the funeral had to be moved to the mortuary across the street.
Rolando says it’s a shame that Collier’s friends are using her death to push an agenda. But her friends are angry. Many showed up to protest the church’s decision on Tuesday afternoon.
One friend, Jose Silva who went to high school with Collier, says he “thought it was a prank” when he was told the funeral was canceled at New Hope Ministries. He says the video should have been reviewed on Thursday when it was dropped off ahead of the Saturday funeral.
“It’s about understanding that there should be dignity in death and that everybody deserves the right to be celebrated in the right way,” Silva said. “And that lack of oversight, and lack of personal ideals and values, should never trump being able to celebrate someone’s life.”