Megachurch Pastor Jim Swilley says he's
prepared to start over if his congregation flees after announcing
he's gay, WSBTV.com
in Atlanta reported.
The 52-year-old Swilley founded Church
in the Now in Rockdale County, Georgia 25 years ago. The
twice-married father of four said he knew he was gay since he was a
Swilley said the recent rash of gay
teens bullied to death motivated him to come out of the closet.
“As a father, think about your 16-,
17-year-old killing themselves, I thought somebody needed to say
something” an emotional Swilley said.
Now divorced, Swilley's former wife
Debye, who knew he was gay from the start of their relationship,
encouraged him to come forward.
Swilley says much of his flock has been
supportive, but response from some on Christian-based websites has
been negative. “This man is sick and twisted,” wrote one
commenter, while another called him “an instrument of the devil.”
But Swilley has brushed aside the criticism.
“I know all the hateful stuff that's
being written about me online, whatever. To think about saving a
teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”
Swilley said he was going to take it
one day at a time, but if there was a major exodus from his church,
he promised he'd start over.