about Me

about Me

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Ken and I were married in New York City on December 31, 2014, and are coming up on our One Year Anniversary. This time last year, Marriage Equality wasn't a reality in all 50 states, and it wasn't legal in Georgia yet for us to be wed here, so we went to the Big Apple for the festivities. We had our reception back in Atlanta a couple of weeks later, and you can click on the link at the bottom of this post for pics of both occasions. Both the Wedding and the Reception were perfect in every way, and we wouldn't change a thing about either of them. 

This has been such a wonderful year. Even though he and I have been together for nearly 4 years, being Married definitely took our relationship to a different level. Marriage really is more than just a piece of paper, and is something that we both take seriously. We felt the difference in our connection in profound and inexplicable ways as soon as we said "I do" on that cold morning in Lower Manhattan.

We have no regrets about our previous marriages (2 for me, 1 for him), and love and appreciate the women who are the mothers of our children very much. We're good with all three of them, and are thankful for the relationships that we now have with them. But being married while being truly yourself is an entirely different experience, and we are much happier being married now than ever before because of that. We are better husbands now. We are better fathers now. We are better men now.

A lot has happened in these last 12 months. Marriage Equality has become legal for the whole country. Ken became a grandfather. All four of my kids now live 5-10 minutes from us. METRON is doing well. I performed many same-sex marriages for people who have been together for decades, and never thought that it would be possible for them. Most importantly, we have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of the last 365 days!

Many years ago when I began talking about 'Real People Experiencing the Real God in the Real World', I had no idea how much those words would ultimately become the theme of my personal life. But they have, and I am now a happily married and real "out" man, who is in love with his real and "out" husband (who is, quite possibly, the sweetest and kindest man in the world), with nothing to hide, nothing to fear, and everything to look forward to!

Life is good. Happy Anniversary to us!

Wedding: New York City 12/31/14Reception: Atlanta 1/18/15
Posted by Jim Swilley on Monday, December 28, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015


"Just saw the CNN report tonight with Pastor Swilley. I don't normally email, blog, etc, however, I must share that I found his interview VERY refreshing. Never have I seen a pastor, especially of a megachurch, be so honest. I am a wife and a mother and a heterosexual. I do not attend church, mainly because of too many churchgoers wanting to cast the first stone and be so judgmental of others. I would absolutely go to church if this man was at the pulpit. He is obviously very intelligent, and I am so pleased to see him have the courage to step forth and handle his "coming out" so professionally and with confidence. Pastor Swilley, you will hear many harsh words in the coming days, weeks and months. You know what you did was right, and hopefully this will give the strength to others to stop trying to live their lives according to how others think they should. Perhaps you will even spare a suicide. Stay strong!!!"
"This weekend I happen to be surfing the web and somehow landed on your story of truth.  There are so many things I wish to express after spending time researching your story both in the past and present.  However I will not try here.

Simply, all I want to say is THANK YOU! 

Observing your courage to openly express the truth of your being gay to your spiritual community was uplifting to me.  I am a 56yo, African American gay man whose journey has been somewhat similar.  I am not a minister but have been a musician of sorts throughout my life in the church.  Having walked the Christian, Non-denomination, and now Unity path, I reached a point where I felt confused and challenged by trying to be truthful to my gayness while being a man of faith.

You have inspired me to continue the journey and have faith that God loves me.  I have a bit of fear as I get older and look towards my future.  I think by finding your ministry I will be able to connect to an online community that will help me navigate that journey in a positive.

I look forward to continuing to following, no connecting, to you and your ministry!

Peace and Blessings"
- EF
Dear Mr. Swilley

I recently watched your video, in which you formally come out as gay to your congregation. For many years of my life I have ran from all forms of religion, and grew a strong hatred for Christianity. I was touched, it brought tears to my eyes to see the open mindedness and support you have given people. I honestly watched the video for distasteful reasons. I have for the majority of my life had very low expectations for Christians. Where others see love and community I see hate and slavery. What I was looking for was another reason to hate, but instead I found a reason to love. I wish you the best. I am truly happy I stumbled across this video. Maybe there is hope for the rest of the world after all.

- J

...This is a well-crafted masterpiece. Rare and original. I'd often toyed with the idea of creating such a book based on my own studies and life. But in the past few years when I finally discovered that there were believers who had already published such affirming books I felt it was not necessary, nor did I feel any longer qualified as theirs were so good.

Yours certainly joins the ranks as a "must read" and adds so much more to it that, as you said, it's not really just a book about being gay. You had something to say that no one else could have said.
I also appreciated the fact that you shared opinions/beliefs that are not necessarily in alignment with those of other authors of gay-affirming books. Such as what certain verses really say. Example, if Jesus really did (even thru implication) say anything about gays, if the word Eunuch could imply both gays AND physically mutilated men, if Paul ever had in mind any same-sex oriented men in  his writings, etc. 

I'll admit when I first read books such as Gay Christian 101 (by Rick Brentlinger), The Children Are Free (Connely & Tyler?), Pastor Sandy Turnbull's latest (God's Gay Agenda), etc, I was quick to agree with their findings. We often do that, don't we? We can get so eager to "prove" our beliefs, so when we hear anything that adds weight to our argument we eat it up! "See! See! They see it too! Why can't you?!" hehehe.

But you have helped me to appreciate, once again, a diversity of perspectives. Even concerning bisexuality. So I'm still digesting all you said and of course will begin reading it again probably later today or tomorrow. I'm still shaping and forming my beliefs as we all are. Right now I DO think the books of the Bible contain many affirming passages (including things Jesus said) and that in it's original language and context none of the "clobber" verses were referring to the committed love relationship found between two people. But again I take your thoughts into consideration and value them equally as well.

As I've said before, our personal stories aren't identical but they do have points that are similar, so your personal letters at the end to your kids and Terri and Debye moved me personally as well. Your pain from venom-laced messages from "concerned friends" is a pain many of us have felt for decades, yet I think you probably get top-prize for volume. Take what I dealt with from others and multiply it by a gayzillion and that's probably what you went thru. Hats off to ya again! You stood your ground, kept your cool (as much as you could) and are still standing!

Finally, I thought your book was complete and covered much of my favorite issues within religion, fundamentalism, and current mainstream theology. I loved the way you kept the GOOD NEWS thread clear through it all. You wrote about what you knew and that was powerful! I only have three questions that lingered in my mind as I finished.

1. You had mentioned in Chapter 9 that you'd talk about David & Jonathan but you didn't get a chance to or perhaps changed your mind about addressing your thoughts on their relationship. I'm just curious what you see there between them, if anything.

2. You mentioned not really seeing others as bisexual. I, myself, don't use that label anymore, but I still have to admit I have an attraction to women. I've read studies on how its all on a scale and that someone can be like 80% attracted to the same sex and 20% to the other or 60% to same and 40% to opposite and so on. From an early age I recall attractions to both and they were genuine. So I can't deny its a real issue for some. If we flat out deny there is such a thing as a bisexual, isn't that the same as when others flat out deny that we are born gay or that we could have possibly started having same-sex attraction at an early age? Which brings me to the final question:

3. You mentioned believing that we are born gay. I believe the same also. But do you think its hereditary? In the genes? From what limited studies I've found on it, there does seem to be some findings to suggest it, and in my own family I've seen a match on what I read but I was just curious what you think. 

So once again you have created a gem, worthy to stand alongside all your other classics. Your mind, your writing style, your "realness", your wit, your ability to talk TO this generation and not over them or down to them (us) is always refreshing and once again I'm changed, encouraged, built up, inspired and more determined. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In Christ,


Thank you for allowing God to work through you. I watched your interview on TV and tears rolled down my eyes, I sobbed. I didn't accept who God made me since the time I was taught that who I am wasn't right. Yes, I got to a point I felt suicidal. But then you coming up an speaking out saved my life. I started to study the bible in context I learnt again that God told Moses that He is who he is, and then I began to accept myself that I am that I am. I came to conclude that Moses was homophobic when he wrote that law and some of his scholars like Paul echoed it... Paul used some of Moses laws to persecute the Christians. Moses was raised and educated by Egyptians, took up some of their habits too, how they wrote their laws and build their temples. Yes He met God and wrote the first five books from the creation story and he was used by God in an amazing way but.. We all are imperfect with a perfect God. We can't put God in our box. We can try to define God using human language and understanding and give Him names as we have always done over thousands of years and even write books but He is who He is as he told Moses. If u literally translated it from the Hebrew bible it is "I will be what I will be" or shall be. But despite what I have come to learn, there is still more and God still speaks. I want to Thank you for the step you took You brought down the images that governed my mind And I came to understand God better. 

God Bless you 

You and Ken are a beautiful couple and I love you 

Thank you for accepting my friend request 

Yours in Christ, 

I've been waiting to write you about the autographed book you gave me while visiting my husband, Edward Blake in the hospital after he had a heart attack last October. 

Ironically, I finished the read on February 21, 2013 -- which is Cortne's birthday. Don't know what significance that is right now, but I know it was. I wrote in the margins, trying to outline various things that just stood out at me. First, let me apologize to you and all the gay and lesbian, beautiful, people! Ten years ago, I'm embarrassed to say that because of my own ignorance in understanding, I, too, had some reservations about my brothers and sisters who are in same-sex relationships. God dealt with me, severely, on it and caused my heart to line up with His word -- unconditional love just came flowing through me like a river! I was quite ashamed once the "truth" of it became clear. Your book helped further that truth. The Good News sealed it.

We tend to fear what we don't understand. I can't say that I understand everything that you write about, but I don't have to. I just love you in spite of me and in spite of you. ( I, definitely, love hanging out with God! Your book reveals Him, totally.) Isn't that how unconditional love works? 

Secondly, thank you for writing "The Good News!" As I read through it...it was hard to put it down. I didn't just read it, I listened to you speak as though we were having a conversation. I heard your words; I heard your heart. It took much courage for you to reveal yourself like that. Coming from one who is so "guarded" like me, I am overwhelmed with you right now! After serving under your ministry for 18 years, I consider myself, my ministry--your offspring. Keep writing and I'll keep reading. Maybe you will experience reading one of my books in the future. I have about 3 in me.  

I sign this note, 

Respectfully yours, 

Maxine S. Blake... and I add my AMEN!!

Monday, October 12, 2015


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!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Lovingly dedicated to our 
6 awesome children 
and our 3 beautiful grand-angels...
God is good...life is good!

Click for video