In October 2010, megachurch pastor Bishop Jim Swilley stood in front of his “Church in the Now” congregation and told them that he was gay. His secret was known by his wife, Debye, as soon as they married. In the end, she was the catalyst that brought him out of the clocollection once she realized that as lengthy as she stayed married to him, he’d never before really be the gay guy that God developed him to be. She divorced him to complimentary him and also then he came out to his family and also his congregation. Georgia Voice was just one of the first to tell the Swilleys’ story.
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The fallout was inevitable. The church experienced a mass exodus and was compelled to downsize. After Jim suffered some stress-related wellness concerns, Debye motivated him to study his heart aacquire to perform what made him happy. In July 2014 they closed Church in the Now. The Swilleys and their sons, also church employees, began over on their own courses. We freshly recorded up with Jim, Debye and also kid Judah (from our original interview), to check out what they’re as much as.
Judah is a fifth generation preacher at The Movement, a congregation that meets at a downtown coffee residence. He is collection to appear on the Oxygen network present, “Preachers of Atlanta,” on Feb. 3. The display adheres to Judah and four other Atlanta pastors and gives a close-up look at their personal and also experienced interactions.
“The last five years has been an advancement,” sassist Judah. “It’s grvery own me. Going through my parents’ divorce, my dad’s coming out and the loss of our church—those obstacles made me that I am this particular day.”
“I realize that not everyone is connected spiritually,” he shelp. “I really desire to produce area. The goal of “The Movement” is to reach world and also attach them through others that are chasing after God and also chasing after love.”
Moving on, reclaiming identity
After the church closed and also Debye shed her task tright here, she was devaproclaimed. “It was all I had actually done for 20 years. Going through that loss forced me to find my own identity.” She likewise discovered liberty in her confidence. “The changes over the last few years have actually enabled me to be even more open and hocolony around my personal views and also not withhost around the universal means that I think and believe.”
Does she go to traditional church now? “I perform not. Purposefully. For over 20 years, I was in eexceptionally service and in the (church) office every day. I just needed the flexibility not to need to be almost everywhere on any kind of Sunday or any kind of Wednesday night. I require the flexibility to worship in my own means, in my own time. It’s been awesome.”
When it comes to regrets, she has none. “If your life is developed in love, then you never before regret. Love never stops working. And those that are a component of your journey are going to be blessed. It’s been an awesome ride.”
Love and also ministry in the now
On Dec. 31, 2014, Jim married his husband, Ken Marshall. Jim now pastors a congregation referred to as “Metron” which meets at Landmark Midtvery own Art Cinema and streams live every Sunday on a YouTube channel.
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“Midtown is wright here I live, that’s wbelow I have actually energy. I thought the year I came out was the happiest of my life. But honestly, this last year was the happiest. It’s not a reflection of my previous family members life,” he sassist.
“Being married as yourself, pgetting to as yourself and living your life as yourself is infinitely much better than doing those points as someone else.”
“When I married Debye, I thought the rapture was going to take place in the following couple of weeks. Tbelow was no reason for me to come out. Clearly, my theology has advanced.” he laughs. “Part of evolving is parting through illusions. Jesus sassist that the Kingdom of God is choose someone who brings treacertain out of their home, both old and also brand-new. I love that imagery. Tright here are specific points about my Christian upbringing that I’m never going to abandon. That’s what I know. That’s my ground zero. There are additionally brand-new ideas that I execute not view as inconsistent to the Christian message.”
Like Debye, Jim likewise has no regrets. “Dr. Seuss said, ‘don’t cry that it’s over, smile that it occurred.’ I don’t regret anything,” he shelp. “I met a great male and I love what I do. I have actually an abundant life.”