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Mom's Funeral Halted by Disapproving Pastor

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The Short of It

Pastor Ray Chavez of New Hope Ministries in Colorado stopped the funeral of a 33-year-old mom of two, whose services were being held in his church, because the memorial slideshow featured photos of kissing and affection between the woman, Vanessa Collier, and her wife, Christina Higley.

The Lowdown

Collier, who died when her gun accidentally discharged while she was cleaning it, was referred to by friends as being a loving wife, daughter, mom and sister. After the services were halted, the crowd of 150 mourners moved flowers, programs and Collier's casket from the church to a funeral home across the street.

The incident triggered a protest against Pastor Chavez after he abruptly ended the service because he disapproved of the nontraditional family's photos in the memorial slideshow. Friends and family want an apology and a refund for the service. Large crowds were outside of his church chanting, "Shame on Pastor Ray!"

The Upshot

Collier's wife clarified via Facebook: "Vanessa's services were NOT refused because she is a 'lesbian.' Her services were refused because we would not let New Hope Ministries 'edit' her life which was a slideshow of our family photos including our engagement and family photos of her and I with our two children! It never crossed my mind that it would be an issue considering we paid to use their facility ONLY. We brought in our own Pastor to facilitate."

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