COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – A woman hailed as a hero for shooting a man who opened fire at her church in 2007 says she feels unwelcome there after the pastor found out she is gay.
Jeanne Assam left New Life Church in 2009. It’s the same church that was founded by Ted Haggard, who was forced out as pastor in 2006 after a man said Haggard had paid him for sex for three years. Haggard and his wife have since started a new church in their home.
Assam told her story at an event for the gay community on Feb. 19, The Gazette reported. Assam told The Associated Press the main message of her speech was forgiveness.
Pastor Brady Boyd told The Gazette that it’s untrue that Assam was told she was unwelcome.
“We welcome everyone at New Life,” he told The Gazette. “We would never tell someone to leave because of their sexual orientation. Jeanne will always be a hero at New Life.”
Assam was a security volunteer at New Life when a 24-year-old gunman shot and killed two parishioners Dec. 9, 2007. Authorities have said Matthew Murray killed himself, but Assam wounded him.
Assam agreed Boyd and others never used the exact words that she was unwelcome. “They just made it very clear I was no longer welcome,” she said Friday. She declined to elaborate.
“I don’t want to bash New Life,” she said. “My speech (Feb. 19) was about forgiveness and acceptance. Many gay people have been hurt by the church and even rejected by their own parents because they’re gay, and that’s just wrong. You can be gay and Christian.”
Boyd was not at the church Friday and was not available for further comment.
Assam said Boyd learned of her sexual orientation after a literary agency approached her about writing a book, and an agent inadvertently outed her to Boyd.
Assam now lives in Denver, where she has found a new church.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)