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The family of Vanessa Collier was saddened and shocked when her funeral was cut short because of her sexual orientation.

Collier’s friends and family gathered at the New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado to honor the mother of two – who may have committed suicide – on Saturday. When pictures were displayed of Collier and her wife, Pastor Ray Chavez ordered the photos to be removed and taken down from a slideshow that was playing at the memorial.

Chavez stopped the service 15 minutes in, making mourners gather photos, flowers and even the 33-year-old’s casket and take the service to a church across the street. According to the Denver Post:

A representative for New Hope Ministries declined to comment before hanging up on a Denver Post reporter on Tuesday. A biography on the church website says Chavez founded the ministry in 1981 with his wife, Lola. It says the church “is a place where those bound by drugs, alcohol, gangs and violence can find an ‘Ounce of Hope.’ ”

That hope was denied to Collier because she loved a woman, friends said.

“A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening?” said Jeanette Arguello, a friend said.

Friends and supporters returned to the Lakewood church on Tuesday to protest and demand Chavez apologize to Collier’s family. The video was sent a week before the funeral, giving him a chance to contact someone if the slideshow needed to edited.

About four dozen supporters gathered outside of the church Tuesday afternoon in protest, chanting “Give us an apology!” and “Shame on Pastor Ray!” Security guards were stationed in front of the building to ensure none of the marchers made their way onto the property.

“You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy,” said a sign carried at the demonstration. “Indignity in death,” read another.

David Campanella, the area manager for Newcomer Funeral Home where the family was relocated, spoke about the impromptu funeral.

“Certain events were not going to be allowed to take place according to the church,” Campanella said. “In talking with family we decided it would be best to have the services here.”

Space was small, but the family was able to make it work. They were also never reimbursed for the first funeral.

SOURCE: The Denver Post | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc. 

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