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.”
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,....
seperation of church and state......
Im tired of the bannas joke's by the bigots,,shave the hair off of a monkey he's white complextion
so she is a male gorilla
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!
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.
.....and so The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs strolls BOLDLY into 1964.
...more like, dragged kicking and screaming.
I thought beastiality was illegal in this country.
Does your mommy know you're on the internet again?
bestiality is not illegal fmfgots, you're here.
We just want to reaffirm our openness to all the lords peoples...except N1ggers and H0m0s of course...
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.
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.
condaleza rice, colon powell.......get real, true color nonsense.
That's it bring politics into it. You've done your trollish duty for the day, thanks.
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.
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.
Go to school people.
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.
Hey Viaquest...your total lack of grammer skills and inability to spell reminds me of my sons special needs friend from 3rd grade.
Rice and powell were for image purposes only. The republican party has very, very few minorities in it.
Who's the racist now, call blacks tokens.
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)
Probably should have impeccable spelling and grammar yourself if you are going to go after others.
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.
I would not have let him marry her in my church either, btw, did the people throw bananas or rice at the newlyweds.
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!!
Dunno but at your wedding I KNOW what any responsible adult will be throwing...CONDOMS!
republicans want to ban condoms.
that leads me to a question, did you ever read the serial number at the end of a condom?
This couple should renounce their religion and join another religon ( possiblly Islam like some other African americans ) and do their nikah. As a protest.
Ha! A Hindu comments on segregation! Don't let the upper caste people find out.
Why bother with a different set of fairy tales?
she looks like a male gorilla
YOU are a PIG!!!
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.
Decent Pigs all over the world officially object to being compared to Tom.
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.
What as as**hole.She looks like your mother.You have no sense of Decency.Go fu**k your Self
it's a joke, get over yourself!!!!!!!
I hope they are sincerely sorry.
just give them $$ they will forgive anything
"The church had attempted to reach out to the couple and...calls were not returned".
Uh, can you blame them?
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.
Get a life moron!
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.
Amazingly, there are still some people with 18th century mentality. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink.
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.
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.
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.