Eric Williams (EW) and Jannette Berkley-Patton (JBP)
EW: So I get a call from a local funeral home. She said, ”I’ve got a really big favor that I want to ask. There is a kid that died. He’d been a member of the church all his life. His parents were very active in church. Mom sang in the choir. At any rate, he’s twenty-five years old and he died of AIDS–and he just happened to be gay. She said, when his pastor found out how he died, he said, ”Well you know, I am not going to do the funeral and it can’t happen in our church.”
JBP: So how did you respond to that then?
EW: I didn’t want to do it…didn’t want to do it. It’s not appropriate for one pastor to go against what another pastor has said, this is what I am going to do in my congregation. And I was perfectly alright with that until I went home and um, started thinking about this family. You know everything good that I have been able to accomplish has started with some kind of a burden. And AIDs burdened me. So reluctantly, I did the funeral. I met the parents of this kid and, you know, I was used to black dads disowning their gay sons. That was the thing to do, My son can’t be gay. But not this family. This father and this mother, they celebrated his life. They embraced all of his friends. And, you know, they taught me more about unconditional love in that little experience than any of the Sunday school books, and any of the courses in seminary, or any of it. And that was the event that kind of rearranged my life.