The funeral of Vanessa Collier was due to be held at New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado and was attended by hundreds of her family and friends. However, 15 minutes before the funeral was due to start, the pastor informed the family that the funeral could not go ahead due to the inappropriate content in the video to be shown during the service.
Pastor Ray Chavez objected to the photo of Vanessa kissing her wife, Christina Higley, as well as photo of her proposing. They were told it could only go ahead if the photos were edited out. What’s more, the family said the ministry had the videos that day before, but did not review them until the morning of the service.
Instead, her family decided to move to the funeral home across the street, which only had a capacity of 60 people. Her casket was closed and driven across in the hearse.
Vanessa was 33 when she died, and left behind her wife and two children. Her family had informed the New Hope Ministeries of her sexuality, and had the video approved by them two days before the service.
Her cousin, Jessica Maestras who helped organise the funeral, said of it being moved:
“It was disgusting. 180 people had to squeeze into a room that held about 60 people. The only other thing they asked me was to have these videos ready two days prior so they could review them. I provided the video, and got the okay from the funeral home that we would be able to show it.”
On Tuesday, friends and family of Collier were back at new Hope Ministries protesting the events that happened over the weekend.
“I am against bigotry and stand with my friend Vanessa Collier’s family in seeking an apology and refund from Pastor Ray Chavez and New Hope Ministries. The acts that took place at her funeral were wrong and no family should ever have to go through that.”
Pastor Ray Chavez, the man who cancelled the services, has refused to comment, but has however refund the family’s money.