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Church that refused to marry black couple releases apology
After their church wouldn't hold their wedding, the Wilsons had to find another church for their ceremony.
August 6th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Church that refused to marry black couple releases apology

By Jeffrey Elizabeth Copeland, CNN

(CNN)–After barring a black couple from marrying in its Mississippi facility in late July, the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs released a statement Sunday apologizing for its actions.

“We, the church, realize that the Hendersons and Wilsons should never have been asked to relocate their wedding. This wrong decision resulted in hurt and sadness for everyone. Both the pastor and those involved in the wedding location being changed have expressed their regrets and sorrow for their actions,” the church said.

Te’Andrea and Charles Wilson planned for months to marry at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs but were asked at the last minute to move.

Their pastor, Stan Weatherford, made the request on behalf of some congregants who didn't want to see the couple married there, according to CNN affiliate WLBT. He performed the ceremony at a nearby church.

Sunday’s statement follows a string of apologies from First Baptist and its congregation for turning away the young couple.

“As a church, we express our apology to Te’Andrea and Charles Wilson for the hurt that was brought to them in the hours preceding their wedding and beyond. We are seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with our Lord Jesus Christ, Te’Andrea and Charles, family and friends of the Hendersons and Wilsons, our church family, and our community for the actions and attitudes that have recently occurred,” the statement continued.

Despite the church’s recent statements, the Wilsons aren’t convinced of the congregations' sincerity, they said, calling the recent release “an insult” and “misleading to the public.”

“The pastor has not spoken to us since a couple days after the incident. We have not heard from the pastor or any church official since the incident,” Charles Wilson said Sunday.

Dr. Richard Land, head of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm for the Southern Baptist Convention, called the church’s apology responsible and necessary.

“It certainly sounds to me as if God has been working on the hearts of the church members of Crystal Springs,” Land said. “And, they have seen and felt the error of their ways and they are expressing that in this letter. They’re apologizing and seeking to correct the damage that’s been done to the reputation of Christ and his church.”

Jonathan Thompson, the African-American community relations director for the city of Crystal Springs, was one of many community members to organize a unity rally after the incident, aiming to help reunite church members.

"I think this is an opportunity to really get intentional about reconciling," he said, adding that he prayed God would forgive all of them for their sins and that they would be able to find reconciliation.

However, Charles Wilson said, “at the rally, the pastor avoided us. He walked the other way when he saw us walking toward him. It would have been nice to talk to us before issuing a statement."

A spokesman who agreed to be identified only as a "church member" said that the church had attempted to reach out to the couple and that calls were not returned.

The Wilsons had attended the church but were not official members. They would have been the first African-American couple to marry in First Baptist Church’s 150-year history, church officials said.

"This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that," Weatherford told CNN affiliate WLBT in July.

Many church members were unaware of the decision to refuse to marry the couple and reacted with surprise to the news.

The incident "didn't represent all the people of the church," said Thompson, who visited the church after the incident.

Sunday's statement reaffirmed the church's desire for the inclusion of all people. "We the membership of First Baptist Church Crystal Springs hold the position that we should be open to all people. Our desire is to restore the church to be a spiritual lighthouse in doing the Lord’s will in Crystal Springs and in Mississippi."

"I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn't stand up," Charles Wilson told WLBT.

“It’s up to them to decide whether to forgive or not. I hope they will,” Land said. “We recognized that our church, just like any other church, is made up of sinful- redeemed but flawed- saints who intentionally, at times, choose not to follow the Lord’s will. Alas, this is a truth of human nature.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church • Race

soundoff (1,212 Responses)
  1. Babak from LA

    This makes me so angry... I am neither white or black, not that it should matter anyways .... I own a small bussiness if I say I will not service black people..... I would be sued, fined and just put out of bussiness (if not jailed for hate crimes) ... But the church gets away with bigotery in the name of Lord ... Go figure,....

    August 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • fmfgots

      seperation of church and state......

      August 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. frank

    Im tired of the bannas joke's by the bigots,,shave the hair off of a monkey he's white complextion

    August 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • fmfgots

      so she is a male gorilla

      August 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  3. Babak from LA

    I don't undertsand. They were ok with having black members but not ok with performing the wedding ceremonry for them!?!? I hope they get sued and shut down!

    August 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. Bob

    This is what most likely happened. Some big church donors who were racist leaned on the pastor and convinced him to disallow the African-american wedding at the church. Now the church is getting so much negative publicity and pressure from the public that it's doing damage control. The racists at the church are not going to change their minds or behavior.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  5. KM

    .....and so The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs strolls BOLDLY into 1964.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • ME II

      lol

      ...more like, dragged kicking and screaming.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  6. fmfgots

    I thought beastiality was illegal in this country.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • WhatWhat?

      Does your mommy know you're on the internet again?

      August 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • fmfgots

      NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      bestiality is not illegal fmfgots, you're here.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  7. CORWIN7

    We just want to reaffirm our openness to all the lords peoples...except N1ggers and H0m0s of course...

    August 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  8. Colin in Florida

    Yep, just another example of a religion leading the way, of setting a shining example to the rest of us, of just how kind and generous we should all be.

    Oh, wait, it's just another bunch of hypocrites who are 50 years behind the times. The Baptists should revoke their charter or do whatever to get the name 'baptist' off of this building.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  9. Dave

    I would bet anyone that all the folks that objected to the wedding at the church are Republicans. This is the true colour of the Republican party.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • fmfgots

      condaleza rice, colon powell.......get real, true color nonsense.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • ME II

      That's it bring politics into it. You've done your trollish duty for the day, thanks.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • CORWIN7

      Amen Brother...If your a Republican it maybe doesn't necessarily mean your a racist...but if you ARE a racist your definately a Republican. In the Republicans defense...many who us liberals think MUST be racist aren't...they REALLY ARE STUP1D enough to believe all that propoganda.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • viaquest

      And I would bet your a Demacrat , based on your nonsense comment, lack of intelligence, and failure to think before you type /speak reminds me of the resident president.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Go to school people.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • CORWIN7

      Um...Sorry Me II but I'm pretty sure the Republicans had already "brought religion into politics" a long time before our friend made his *true btw* comment.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • CORWIN7

      Hey Viaquest...your total lack of grammer skills and inability to spell reminds me of my sons special needs friend from 3rd grade.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Rice and powell were for image purposes only. The republican party has very, very few minorities in it.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • fmfgots

      Who's the racist now, call blacks tokens.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Jen

      Corwin,

      Not to defend via quest (I'm a liberal), but you had several errors in your post as well.
      'you're a republican'
      'you're definitely' (error on you're and the spelling of definitely)
      'propaganda'

      Probably should have impeccable spelling and grammar yourself if you are going to go after others.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      It is what it is. Do you think former RNC chair Michael Steele was hired for his intellect? NO. Once the republicans figured out he couldn't shine the presidents shoes, they got rid of him.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  10. fmfgots

    I would not have let him marry her in my church either, btw, did the people throw bananas or rice at the newlyweds.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Sherron Teal

      It is the ignorance of uneducated fools like you who keep this country down and give us a bad reputation. My suggestion don't speak until YOU GET A BRAIN!!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • CORWIN7

      Dunno but at your wedding I KNOW what any responsible adult will be throwing...CONDOMS!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      republicans want to ban condoms.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • fmfgots

      that leads me to a question, did you ever read the serial number at the end of a condom?

      August 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  11. Rakesh

    This couple should renounce their religion and join another religon ( possiblly Islam like some other African americans ) and do their nikah. As a protest.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Copenshaw

      Ha! A Hindu comments on segregation! Don't let the upper caste people find out.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • PraiseTheLards

      Why bother with a different set of fairy tales?

      August 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  12. tom ritur

    she looks like a male gorilla

    August 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • denise

      YOU are a PIG!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • imawriter

      Tom Ritur...and what does your comment make you look like?? Certainly not attractive. Amazing how people can throw stones under the guise of anonymity.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • CORWIN7

      Decent Pigs all over the world officially object to being compared to Tom.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Tod Allswang

      Proof racism is very much alive in this country.

      Now why don't you people just come out and say you cannot vote for a black man.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • James

      What as as**hole.She looks like your mother.You have no sense of Decency.Go fu**k your Self

      August 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • fmfgots

      it's a joke, get over yourself!!!!!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  13. countrans

    I hope they are sincerely sorry.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  14. tom ritur

    just give them $$ they will forgive anything

    August 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Will

    "The church had attempted to reach out to the couple and...calls were not returned".

    Uh, can you blame them?

    August 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  16. fmfgots

    wolf, did you see that mug. good luck to him. It reminds me of an old Island song. If you want to be happy for the rest of you life, find an.........and make her your wife.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  17. Nobody N. Particular

    Another shepherd fails their flock, instead of being the moral compass for those who opposed the marriage because of hate, the pastor gave into the hate and let it win. This pastor is unfit to be a leader in God's church, because he seems to be playing for the other team (Satan). Do not believe in false prophets, those who preach the words of hatred and evil, then claim them as God's are deceivers and only seek to distract you from the path of righteousness.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  18. sam sainju

    Amazingly, there are still some people with 18th century mentality. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  19. EricaAlexander

    This couple should be looking to become members of another Church. Why wait days before the Wedding was to take place, to speak out against Black People getting Married in their so called Church. What kind of Church is this?? Obviously people of different Races do not seem to be Welcomed at this particular Church. Minorities can attend, as long as they are donating Money, but not get Married at this Church. Unbelievable!!! What a Bunch of Idiots.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  20. Toolate!

    I'd say "too little too late!" Nothing like attending a church with a bunch of hypocrits. Praying one day, slamming the black couple wanting to marry in their church the next day.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.