about Me

about Me

Monday, October 12, 2015

FIVE YEARS LATER


October 13, 2010. It's hard to believe that that was 5 years ago today...1/2 of a decade...but it was, and lot has happened in that length of time.

Today I am happily and legally married to a wonderful man with whom I've been in relationship for 3 1/2 years. Not only that, but as of today, Marriage Equality is legal in all 50 states, which is something that I wouldn't have believed would have been possible 5 years ago.

We are in our 2nd year of ministry at METRON in Midtown Atlanta, and it is a wonderful and blessed thing in my life. It is not a "gay" church, and I do not have a gay ministry. There are several excellent gay churches in the Metro area, and many more gay-affirming churches here, but METRON is something different. In a word, it is simply the ultimate manifestation of "Real People Experiencing the Real God in the Real World", and I am honestly the happiest and most spiritually fulfilled that I have been in 43 years of ministry.

After I came out publicly, we definitely lost a lot of people from Church In The Now, (the church I started in 1985), which ultimately resulted in our losing the 25 million dollar property and complex that we built there in Conyers, but CITN did not close because of what happened on 10/13/10.

The church continued to function successfully in another location in that same area with a congregation of around 500 for the four years subsequent to my coming out, and Debye, my ex-wife, continued to be my Associate Pastor for the duration of that time. I am happy that CITN continued there for those four years, because during that time we definitely all did something that had never been done before, and proved the naysayers wrong about the end of our ministry. In fact, I could have easily remained there in the Conyers/Covington area and could have bought the building that we leased there, and could easily be pastoring there even today if I had so chosen. But I felt that we had made a sufficient statement, and that our season there was over at the end of that time.

Debye still lives in Covington, has a very successful business, and is over 4 years into a relationship of her own. My kids and grandchildren are all well and each live 5-10 minutes from where Ken and I live. I see them all the time, and my sons often provide the music for METRON. Ken's sons are also doing well, and we see them often, too. He has also become a grandfather since we were married (see the previous post for a video about all our kids).

There are a couple of places on the right-hand column of this blog where you can click to see my coming out video. A few hours after it was originally posted, it went viral, and became the most-watched video on YouTube for a couple of days. It instantly connected me with 2,500 new Facebook friends in about 48 hours. To this day, five years later, I still hear weekly from someone somewhere in some part of the world who has just now discovered it online, and wants to tell me how much it meant to them. Many people have even told me that it saved their life.

I don't really get hate mail or death threats any more. Most of that stuff died off quite a while ago. My most vocal detractors have all been scattered in the last five years, and several of them have died, so I pretty much live in total peace now.

Aside from the 15 minutes of fame that I experienced when I first came out, I have been approached by 10 different reality shows in the last five years, and 2 of them are still in the works. I don't know what will happen with either of them, and I am good with whatever does or doesn't materialize with that. One thing is for sure, the Universe is obviously trying to tell my story, so we'll see.

I have no regrets about coming out. I am proud of what we accomplished in Conyers, but do not miss the stress of maintaining a Megachurch at all, so I do not consider losing the property there a failure. As I said, I am happy that we didn't lose the church, which is not a building or real estate. In fact, the majority of people who attend METRON are people who were a part of Church In The Now. The fact that we did what we did there for as long as we did it is miraculous, and still brings a lot of confidence into my life.

I am angry at no one, and have no bitterness whatsoever about the relationships that were severed by my coming out. Many of those relationships have been restored over these five years, but even without that, my life is very full, and I am surrounded by love and support. I love all and forgive all.

I am happy.
I am blessed.
I love the truth.
I love my husband.
I love my kids.
I love my life.
I love my God.

I am excited to see what the next five years bring!

It is all very, very good!

58 comments:

  1. Melissa Floyd Hall said...

    You always taught us to stick around until we got a happy ending! :-) Happy Coming Out Eve! <3

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  2. Audrey Green Morahan said...

    It aint over yet...more to come

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  3. Sarah Mule' said...

    Watching you hold tight to your faith in spite of the storm has been a guidepost for me in my own walk. I'm very thankful that you told your story and unapologetically continued to share your ministry. So happy to hear of all your blessings! <3

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  4. Amanda McGiboney said...

    Amen!!

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  5. Keith Rockdale Bone said...

    You are a good man Jim Swilley. God bless you my friend.

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  6. James Ozga said...

    Bravo

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  7. Ron Pennywell said...

    Ur light continues to shine bright and inspire those who need the blessing!! #grateful

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  8. Sherrie Whittaker said...

    Love you!!! Keep on Bish

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  9. AMichelle Rogers said...

    Love you!! Such a beautiful reminder how far Kera Anne Keepingitreal & I have come as well, as we have also joined the legally married wagon!! You help keep us grounded when life seems it's not gonna work out!!

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  10. Shana Scudder said...

    my favorite sermon of all time, from anyone, anywhere. :-)

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  11. Ed Jarnagin said...

    The lesson that we all can learn from your last five years is that if you be yourself, be brave, be strong, and never lose your faith, you can make it. I have learned a lot from you and for that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you and Ken for being my friends.

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  12. Sherrie Whittaker said...

    I won't be fulfilled till I see you

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  13. Terrell Christopher Davis said...

    The greatest blessing in my life has been what you and Debye started and accomplished back at CITN and what you and Ken have now at Metron! It has taught me that love isn't always conventional but it is unconditional, unwavering, and true. Thank you and your amazing modern family for all that you are!!!

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  14. William Hillard-Aymerich said...

    I am happy for you! I hope it gets better and better... Still Be alert my friend... When we are at peace is when the devil comes knocking and tries us... God will cover us but he still let's us make mistakes so we can learn more...

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  15. Sherrie Whittaker said...

    We all love you

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  16. Mason David said...

    Much love and respect for you and your family! CITN will always be a great memory and experience in our lives. Thank you, Bish! No regrets.

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  17. Hannah Stout said...

    ♡♡♡

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  18. Tracy Elickku said...

    Person LOVE YOU!!! Forever our bishop!! :-)

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  19. Joan Bandy Casteel said...

    I am honored to have had you for my Bishop at CITN. Thank you for continuing your message of love and hope. Much love to you and Ken and all your loved ones.

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  20. Jessica Erin Ryan said....

    Congratulations on your marriage Jim!! I have always loved being surrounded by the people of this church and always felt at home. I love you just as much now as I ever did. Your an amazing human being and have taught me and my family a lot! I thank you for all that you do and all that you have done! Many blessings to you and your beautiful family <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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  21. Jere Luck said...

    Holy "Moly"! No way it's been 5 yrs. What the What?!?!? U r literally a new creation since then. Wow!! And what a beautiful new creation u have become!! Not that the "old" one wasn't. Cuz u had the words of life then too!! But ur countenance is explosive, and the freedom u have in life explodes too. Thanks for sharing all that. Love ur guts!!! Congrats on 5 yrs...wonder what the NEXT 5 yrs holds?!?! WOOHOO!!!!!

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  22. A James Collins said...

    This thing wasn't done in a corner :-)...So happy you embraced your authentic self, abandoned religious doctrine & dogma and learned how to Njoy life more abundantly. We have mutual friends...luv 2 connect some mutual dots & meet face2face... Njoy Life!

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  23. Jeff Ferguson said...

    Lots of love and support to you both and the family, Jim Earl.

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  24. Chase Berry said...

    Still very proud, good for you. I believe your path will/has helped many people.

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  25. Lori Finch Coyne said...

    HAPPY 5 years! <3

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  26. Ken Marshall said...

    Happy coming out Eve to the best husband ever ! Keep on teaching and letting your light shine as bright as it possibly can cause God is watching over you . It makes me happy to see you so happy at Metron cause you are where you want to be doing what you are called to do ! I love seeing that in you ! Your best days are ahead of you and right by your side is where I will be ! I love you !

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  27. Nancy Lynn Pugh said...

    We love you Bish !

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  28. Drea Ciarrochi said...

    I worshiped at CITN for 5 years and then moved away but Bishop I'll forever be thankful for the liberation in Christ revealed while at CITN and under your teaching. Ahhhh, what a better life on earth I have because of how God uses you and the people around you. I was never prouder than the day you came out. I remember watching it sitting at my kitchen table here in St. Louis, within a few days of the actual meeting, speechless, eyes welling over with tears. Pastor Debye was sitting right there listening and praying in love and support. I will always be in awe at both of your strength in God and sincere, steadfast commitment to authenticity at all costs. I love you both and your entire family for that. God has obviously blessed you all for your commitment to Him. I thank Him specifically for wonderful Ken and Pastor Debye's love as well. Thanks for sharing, I did not realize it had been 5 years already! Blessings

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  29. Jackie Yetso said...

    Two things I remember when I think of you Jim, nay, even three. 1. You sitting up on the side of the altar at Faith Memorial. 2. You're using All About Eve references in a service. 3. Words that you shared with me when we went to lunch while you were teaching in Cleveland. They were words of support that always seemed to be 'in italics' when I would think of them. Very supportive before I even knew that I would be needing them. I am thankful for you and have been in awe as I have watched your story and truth unfold. Namaste.

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  30. Natalie Warner said...

    Happy Anniversary! I believe that's the appropriate phrase. Coming to CITN back in 2005 definitely changed my life's perspective for the best.
    Thank you for being such a scholar, praise and worshipping transparent man of God. I love you and all that you're about. Through your transparency I learned to move forward. Continue to be a blessing

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  31. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2GxCjCaIAo&ab_channel=gollincho

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  32. Greg Grantham said...

    Wow. It's great hearing more about your journey.

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  33. Jonna Timmons Stickel said...

    "The privilege of life is being who you are." ..... Joseph Campbell

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  34. Beth Laraine Rehbein said...

    You just keep getting better, happier and more enlightened, and taking us all with you. Thank you for teaching us how to create the life we want & showing us that God so wants us to be happy.

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  35. Kanitra Barrett said...

    Once again.....Great Post. I simply love it!

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  36. Linda M Curtis said...

    I came to CITN in December 2008, for the first time on a trip from MI and it became my church IMMEDIATELY~ via streaming n blogging ~what a wonderful blessing. Countless # visits, over the next 6 years, became my life and attending church, ITB, worshipping with my church family.You, my Bish, but more so, my friend that I love and rejoice with. Love your Whole Family, in a special place in my heart emoticon ~ Muah ~ Me p.s. Can you clone Ken n share him with your MI gal ? xoxo

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  37. Mattie Speed said...

    You are an inspiration.thank you for your ministry!

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  38. Deb Perkins Muehlstein said...

    And we're proud & happy for you!

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  39. Michelle Edwards said...

    Beautiful!

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  40. Abraham Ogheneovo Kowo said...

    Bishop thank you. Something led me to your coming out video fews day after you came out to some of your members. You gave me the courage to come out to my family. I love you Bishop.

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  41. Frances Martin said...

    Very thankful for your life as a teacher and a friend. Your teaching is so far advanced and we love it. Very thankful that religion made you stronger and didn't make you quit or become bitter. You're a great example of what happens if we keep on..keeping on.

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  42. Joyce Marie said...

    Bishop this was a Awsome read im happy for the both of you continue to let God use you.

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  43. Jim Swilley Thank you so much, everyone, for your amazing words! You've made an already important day for me even that much more special! I am grateful for each of you, and I ove you all!

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  44. Damienne Black said...

    What an amazing testimony.. Praising God for His work through you.

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  45. BobandCindy Bishop said...

    Great testimony and we are so happy and love you both. Our lives have been changed and continue to be changed because of you and your ministry which is still very powerful.

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  46. Debye Swilley said...

    <3

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  47. John W. Brumlow said...

    Your life matters to me and has made the world a better place for all.

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  48. Linda Ann Sommer said...

    I'm thrilled that you're married! When I stumbled into your coming out video I was amazed at the working of the Holy Spirit who is always inclusive!! God bless you as you continue to serve HIm.

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  49. Jeremi Colvin said...

    Blessings, and Happy Anniversary!

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  50. Michelle Edwards said...

    Beautiful!

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  51. Michelle Vaughn said...

    Well deserved

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  52. Mike Gordon said...

    Beautifully worded, as always.

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  53. Thanks so much, beautiful people! <3

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  54. Keysha C. Wineglass said...

    Oh my gosh! I was so happy when I saw this post! I have been thinking about you on and off for a very long time. I was only close with a handful of people at CITN so whenever I would ask for you, no one seemed to know where you were. So glad you and Ken were able to make it official . Yesssss! You are an inspiration and testament to perseverance. Way to go Bishop for never giving up! <3

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  55. James Lina said...

    Congratulations to you and Ken!! I am honored to know you, if even from afar. Yes, it is truly ALL VERY, VERY good!! (abrazos)

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  56. Just read Psalm 91 and all I can hear is your voice in "Washed by the Word". Thank you for, unbeknownst to you, instilling the scripture deep inside my spirit several years ago.

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