Just wanted to share this excerpt from a beautiful message that I just received...letters like this make it all worthwhile...
"...Then I heard about you and your church in Conyers. I am disabled and it is difficult for me to get around and I never got to come to your church. But I bought and read several of your books and I felt like I wasn't all alone anymore. You sort of opened the door for me to religion again. Now I don't feel like ALL ministers are preaching beliefs that are so opposite what I have come to believe God and Jesus want us to be.
I know when you came out several years ago, you lost a LOT. Even though you are happy now and in a great place and wouldn't change a thing, it still had to hurt bad. There have to be times when you think about that and it stings, you wouldn't be human if you didn't. But, I want you to know what a Hero I think you are! You will never know the exact number of lives you saved (literally)!! But they are out there, kids who are alive today because they saw your courage and your reassurance that it is okay to be who they are, that God loves them just the way they are and that things WILL get better for them.
I went to the wedding of two of my friends last summer and it was the most beautiful and emotional wedding I've ever been to, everyone was crying. They had been together 17 years but said they never thought, in their lifetime, they would be able to legally marry. You could see just how much being able to do something, that straight people take for granted, meant to them. By you being brave and sharing with the world, you impacted their lives. Maybe same sex marriage would have happened anyway, but you sure helped speed it up because you helped change public opinion. You helped other people that weren't gay, but were struggling with other problems because they saw your courage.
I'm not gay and I've never even met you face to face, but you've made my life better too. Your honesty and bravery to do the 'right' thing and not fold to just what other people wanted and expected you to do (even though you knew it was going to cost you dearly) is quite an inspiration to me and so many others. I don't feel like a 'Heathen' like I used to because I didn't fall in line with the preachings I grew up with (My mother told me to the day she died that I was going to Hell).
If you DO ever have a day where you get down or think about how much you lost by being real and honest and true to yourself, please just think of what I've said above about the thousands of lives you've touched, inspired, and literally saved from death! You've made a difference in the world. Now, that's something God can be proud of you for!! I'M SO SORRY! I didn't mean to write a book here (hope you weren't eating dinner when you read this or your food is cold now)! I just thought you might enjoy this article...and I've been meaning to write you the other stuff, I just haven't gotten around to it. You don't have to write me back. I know you get lots and lots of other messages and you are busy.....I just wanted you to know."
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Many of you already wished Ken Marshall a Happy Birthday on the post(s) in which these pics from last Sunday first appeared...we honored his special day at the Metron at Landmark's Midtown Art Cinema Easter Brunch, but his birthday is actually tomorrow (4/19)...I just wanted to post some of them again to say a public HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the finest man I know...my friend, my partner, my Southern Gentleman, my husband, Mr. Kenneth Marshall...
At the brunch on Sunday, people took turns telling Ken what he meant to them, and I loved hearing everything that everyone had to say (and agreed with all of it)...Jonah spoke in behalf of his siblings, and his words about having 2 dads were very touching to both Ken and me...
But my favorite speech was from my granddaughter, Sofia, who stood not once, but twice to tell Ken how much she loved him...in her second speech she said, "I've never seen you when you didn't have the biggest smile on your face! It's like you have a big rainbow around your head all the time!"
I loved that. Now every time I look at Ken, I notice the big rainbow of light around him. Olivia didn't have anything to say publicly, but you can see her right beside him in most of the shots...the girls both love him a lot...
In fact, everybody loves him, I think...
I know I certainly do...
Happy Birthday, Ken...I know that this isn't an easy time for you, and I love seeing what a good son you are to your dad, and how well you take care of him, just like you did for your mom...I'm believing we'll be able to get out of town for a couple of days next week so that you can have a break and get some rest...
These past 5 years with you have been heaven on earth...
I love you...
Again, the Happiest of Birthdays to you!
Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Here is a sampling of the outpouring of beautiful comments on yesterday's blog post...
Your continued love and support is always appreciated, and has made this important milestone date in my life that much more special...
I love you all!
"I knew you then, I know you now; I respected you then, I respect you now; I called you friend then, I call you friend, now; I loved you then, I love you now; you were there for me then, you're there for me now; I heard you then, I hear you now; I used to see you in the NOW, I still see you in the NOW. Was anything "supposed" to change, because you "came out" ? If so, I didn't get that memo. Just keepin it REAL ;)"
"Thanku bishop Jim Swilley for your openness , strength and courage to me and so many in the community that have your true support. growing up in such a conservative town where i live its hard to be ones self, you have saved so many lives out there and that truely means alot to me and so many. Im so thankful each and everyday for you Jim , Ken , & your whole family and all of your ministry its touched me and so many lives your our true voice . Thanku for all that you do Jim it touches so many of our lives and makes a true difference Thanku Jim."
"If you had never had the courage to come out, I never would have had the pleasure of getting to know you through this forum...you have enriched my life through your zest for life, compassion for your fellow man and obvious love of family and your calling. It's only right that you are free to be your most authentic self!"
"I didn't know you back then.."BUT" I am so glad I know you now. I have watched that video several times and videos of your ministry then and I am so thankful for what you teach now..."
"I told you then and I think it's even more true today ... You have saved so many lives and impacted so many people all over the world with your courage and openness ! Please know that what you did had an impact that I don't think you or most others can understand ! You were a voice that some of us needed and your voice continues to give us hope and courage! You are one of the bravest people I've ever met and you continue to inspire myself and so many others ! Thank you from the depths of my heart and being! I love you !"
"Blessings to you and yours. I am touched by you and all that you've been through. You're a true example of what our group should be, but few attain."
"Your authenticity is so very welcomed. It is inspiring. We need more folks in ministry to stand up and speak truth about their God-given sexuality so more people, in turn, can find live honestly. God bless."
"Bishop so proud of you & to see how much you have grown over those 6 yrs. So thankful you can be true to yourself & live your best life...
"I watched this in its entirety yesterday and was very touched by the love in the room for you and knowing this must have been very difficult for you.(yes it made me tear up) I have not known you very long since I recently met you through Ken, but I certainly look forward to more time with the two of you. Both of you are very good men and I wish you all the best in your future with the ministry and personally."
"I'm so glad u came out. Being visible like that has helped countless others. Thank you Bishop!"
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
In honor of today, October 11, being 'National Coming Out Day' ( +National Coming Out Day on Facebook), and because day after tomorrow, October 13, is the 6th anniversary of my publicly coming out, I have a few reflections and observations that I'd like to share...
First of all, I'm amazed at how time flies, and at how much things have changed in my life, in my thinking, and in the world at large concerning what it means to come out.
As of this writing, Ken and I have been together for going on 5 years, and have been legally married for nearly 2 of those years. We are very happy, very much in love, very committed to one another, our kids and grandkids are good, I am still in the ministry, still a Bishop, and for the most part live the life that I at one time only dared to imagine.
The avalanche of hate mail that I once regularly received from the mainstream Christian world after coming out has pretty much completely disintegrated, and has been replaced by a fairly regular stream of supportive correspondence from around the world. Haven't had a death threat in several years now, and most of my loudest detractors in the Christian media have either lost interest in my story or have died off.
My ministry is considerably scaled down now in size from what it was, which is frankly the way I like it, and the majority of the people who attend Metron are those who have been in covenant with me for many years. Most of them are straight, most of them are married, and most of them were a part of Church In The Now. I'm very proud of the megachurch that I started and pastored for 30 years, but I don't miss the stress of maintaining the budget, physical property and staff that was required to keep it going at all. I just do the part of ministry now that I love, and I live a happy, stress-free life because of it.
I have more to say, but I'll put the rest of the post into video form.
Please click on the link for the video...