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July 30th, 2012
04:53 PM ET

Church that barred black wedding affirms commitment to equal treatment

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -A Mississippi church that wouldn't allow a black couple to marry in its sanctuary because of the couple's race  appears to be trying to right a wrong, as officials with the church's denomination decried the incident.

Charles and Te' Andrea Wilson, regular attendees at First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, were forced to relocate their wedding this month at the last minute.  Their pastor, Stan Weatherford, made the relocation request on behalf of some congregants who didn't want to see the couple married there, according to CNN affiliate WLBT.

Weatherford performed the ceremony at a nearby church.

At services on Sunday, the congregation's leadership addressed the controversy in a statement read to the church.

"Our many ministries here are open to everyone and have been for many years," the church deacons said in a statement read to the congregation, according to The Clarion Ledger. "We would never consider doing otherwise."

When contacted Monday evening, Weatherford said the church would have no comment on the situation.

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In an interview Monday, a local Baptist official said the church leadership was trying to address the controversy and to move past it with the statement from church deacons.

"The deacons made an affirmation that First Baptist Church would be available to minister to anybody in the church or the community.  That went over real well," said Copiah County Baptist Association Director George Pat Bufkin, who attended the service. " They're now in the way of amends."

Bufkin portrayed the move to deny the black couple a chance to marry in the church as the work of a small minority whom he called "radicals" and who he said made mostly anonymous calls to their pastor to complain about the black couple's wedding.  Bufkin said he did not know who exactly was behind the calls.

Bufkin, whose group is made up of 30 Baptist churches in the area, said First Baptist is among the largest in the county. The 150-year-old church has around 800 members, he said, and is in the midst of a building campaign.

"Anytime the church grows you always have the devil there, trying to stir up problems," Bufkin said.  "That's what occurred here and the deacons have already nipped that in the bud."

Weatherford, the First Baptist pastor, told CNN affiliate WLBT last week about why he agreed to move the wedding.

"I didn't want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te' Andrea," he said. "I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day."

Calls, e-mails and text messages to the pastor by CNN were not returned on Monday.  No one answered the telephone at the church office.

Jonathan Thompson, the 27-year-old community relations director for the city of Crystal Springs, was at First Baptist's Sunday service, and said the incident "didn't represent all the people of the church."

"I wanted to come as a voice of racial reconciliation and spiritual reconciliation," said Thompson, who is African-American, explaining his decision to go to the church on Sunday.

Thompson said he was welcomed at the service.   "I was allowed to give the closing prayer," he said.  He said he prayed God would forgive all of them for their sins and that they would be able to find reconciliation.

Thompson has organized a unity rally for Monday night for area churches to come together to meet, sing and pray.

"I think this is an opportunity to really get intentional about reconciling," he said.

First Baptist's move to deny a wedding venue has been blasted by local and national officials with the Southern Baptist Convention, whose 16 million members make up the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

"Mississippi Baptists both reject racial discrimination and at the same time respect the autonomy of our local churches to deal with difficulties and disagreements under the lordship of Jesus," said Dr. Jim Futral, the executive director the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

"While there may be hurts, wrongs and mistakes that must be addressed, the context for this to happen is in a historical church with a genuine caring pastor and thoughtful leaders who are seeking to do right," Futral's statement continued. "We, along with our entire body of faith, pray for them and stand ready to do anything that we can to help that church and that community."

A spokesman for the Southern Baptist executive committee told CNN the group would defer to local and state organizations for comment.

"We're not a top down organization," said Roger Oldham. "We're a bottom up organization. The congregation is the governing body."

Oldham said the local church needs to take corrective measures and he said they appear to be doing that in this case.

"The SBC has taken a strong position that racism is a sin and Christians should always oppose it," he said, referring to the Southern Baptist Convention.  "We're also grieved when a small group attempts to set policy for the entire congregation."

Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, criticized First Baptist's action.

"There are valid as well as nonvalid reasons for not permitting a couple to get married with the blessing of that local congregation of believers," Land said. "The race or ethnicity of that couple is never a valid reason and any local body of believers who rejects a couple on those grounds should be reprimanded."

"Everyone should understand that in the SBC this decision resides with the local congregation for good or ill. If this couple was indeed rejected because of their race, as a Southern Baptist I’m embarrassed, frustrated, and I apologize to the couple on behalf of the Convention for the hurt and emotional pain they’ve experienced,” Land's statement continued.

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Charles Wilson, the groom at the center of the controversy, said on Sunday, "All we wanted to do in the eyes of God was to be man and wife in a church that we thought we felt loved. What was wrong with that?"

Te'Andrea Wilson said, "I had dreams of having my wedding the way I wanted it, and I also dreamed of having it at the church and unfortunately, it didn't happen."

Her husband said if there was a time to "step up and be Christ-like," it was before their wedding.

"If it was such a minority of people, why didn't the majority stand up and say, 'In God's house we don't do this'?" Charles Wilson asked.

On Sunday, some church members reacted to news of the wedding with surprise. Many hadn't known what happened to the Wilsons until they heard about it on the news, and offered apologies.

"I would say I'm sorry this happened and would you forgive the people who caused it? Because we're gonna try to," Bob Mack told CNN affiliate WLBT.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church

soundoff (933 Responses)
  1. ReligiousPoopShoot.com

    Any religion based on Jesus Christ is gonna lick balls, because Jesus does in fact lick balls.
    kindness

    Fuk Jesus and Mohammed, fuk them up their stupid as.ses.
    heavensent

    Jesus and Mohammed are one-note jokes that only retards follow. They’re fuking clown shoes. If they were real I’d beat the sh.it out of them for being so stupid.
    blondie

    July 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jesus and Mohammed

      All you motherfukers are gonna pay! You are the ones who are the ball-lickers! We’re gonna fuk your mothers while you watch and cry like little whiney bi.tches. We’re gonna make you eat our sh.it, then sh.it out our sh.it and then eat your sh.it that’s made up of our sh.it that we made you eat!

      July 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • solex

      Nothing like a reserved, carfeully thought out religious debate...

      July 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      You're welcome.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  2. Smack Dab

    Maybe if they put down their forties and gats for a second and learn how to read and write at a third grade level society would not fear them.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • solex

      Maybe if people did not generalize and live in fear the world would be a much better place.

      August 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  3. fuzzback

    Seems like here's a church that needs its TAX-EXEMPT STATUS revoked YESTERDAY.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  4. Name*Paul Kearney

    The stance of Christ on diversity is obviously all encompassing, but to act as if "black" congregations that exclude others do not exist, is absurd. There are actually a surprising number that will either deny entry outright, or make the thought of coming back as welcoming as a porcupine hide diaper, with the same comfort level. Any Christian church that excludes any race, kindred, or tongue, is simply invalid.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Name one Paul.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  5. SixDegrees

    Cowards all round. The nimwits who made anonymous, threatening phone calls and wouldn't put their face to their odious demands. And the pastor who caved in to such threats and moved the wedding elsewhere, instead of denouncing such filth from the pulpit and making it quite clear that his church would never tolerate such bigotry.

    Despite the resolution, the bigots won this one. They'll be back, next time with even more outrageous demands.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  6. blondie

    Well Black people shouldn't be allowed to marry anyway. Only White, straight, christian people should be allowed this high god sanctioned blessed matrimonial right. It say so in the bible.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      Naw, I say everyone has the same right to be miserable.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Name*El

      You sound like a crackhead.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  7. Dewdamaff

    I don't know about this couple or any other people in this forum, but when people express that I'm not welcomed, I usually go my own way in the other direction. This is not news. This is a way of life for some and has been in this section of the country since it was formed. Newsflash: It aint going away. I hope the racists and bigots of all races this story may have polarized dismiss their differences and focus on the real enemy- the politicians who you all so proudly vouch for yet happen to find a way to pinch you and all of us "little people" each and every day.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  8. dougie

    Antique farm equipment.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • frankie

      Rusty outdoor furniture.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Skwisgaar-ie

      Brutal deths metals.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      A surrey with a fringe on top

      July 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • solex

      Kudos to Alpa Chino for the Oklahoma! reference...

      July 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  9. OJ

    They keep claiming it is the religion of love and peace. Slave people for centuries, kill around the world, and now even stop them from getting married is not so peaceful.

    July 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  10. solex

    Morality = Doing the right thing no matter what
    Religion = Doing what you are told no matter what

    July 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  11. Keep Fear Alive

    Christian Hate... and this NATION IS FULL OF IT.... plenty and PLENTY of Hate Filled Make Believe Christians.... going to church with mink Hats, painted Nails and Blue hair... just so they look nice when they reliease their venomous hate filled ideaolgy

    July 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  12. Creepella1964

    I think when those anoymous calls were received the pastor should have politely suggested that maybe those parishoners find another church. God does not see color and loves all people – no discrimination. There may be many people surprised when they arrive at the pearly gates to find more than just caucasians!

    July 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • solex

      But that didn't seem to matter right? These people were excluded simply because of their skin color. No rationalizing of religion can change that.

      It's NOT "God's" will.

      It's yours.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  13. solex

    So let me get this straight – The reason they chose NOT to marry these people is because of "Anonymous Radicals" who called the church to protest the marriage?

    Sorry, but that is BS. The people who run the church made this decision and then back tracked when confronted with their gross discrimination in a place of worship.

    Being religious and being moral are NOT mutually inclusive.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Ben

      that is absolutely right!!!!!

      July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  14. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    July 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • solex

      Sounds like you checked out to a delusion to me. You gave up your self determination for the comfort of being told what to belive and how to behave.

      If you need a book and the invisible man to do that, then you are wanting, and that is the plain truth.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Comparative Mythology 101

      kindness, you are a complete IDIOT.

      Horus: Egyptian, 6000 BC
      Dionysus: Greek, 1500 BC
      Attis: Greek, 1200 BC
      Mithra: Zoroastrian, 600 BC
      Krishna: Hindu, 400 BC
      Jesus: Christian, 30 AD
      A) Born on Dec. 25 – Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, Jesus (by way of plagiarizing a Pagan holiday
      B) Virgin Birth – Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, Jesus
      C) Sign of Star in the East – Horus, Krishna, Jesus
      D) Adorned by 3 Kings – Horus, Jesus
      E) Teacher at age 12 – Horus, Mithra, Jesus
      F) Ministry started at 30 – Horus, Jesus
      G) 12 Disciples – Horus, Mithra, Jesus
      H) Traveled with Disciples Performing Miracles – Horus, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, Jesus
      I) AKA The Truth, the Light, God’s Shepherd – Horus, Dionysus, Mithra, Jesus
      J) Betrayed – Horus, Mithra, Jesus
      K) Crucified – Horus, Attis, Mithra, Jesus
      L) Buried 3 days – Horus, Attis, Mithra, Jesus
      M) Resurrected – Horus, Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, Jesus

      July 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Cal

      wow, what a full-blown whack job you are. it can't be easy going through life as completely stupid as you are, so i guess i can't blame you for anything. but good luck to you and your imaginary friends in the sky!

      July 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  15. Fr33th1nk3r

    Maybe they wouldn't marry them because she looks young enough to be his daughter?

    July 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • lsgyrl

      Doesn't seem to stop older white men. IJS

      July 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  16. Lynsey Pug

    "a small minority whom he called "radicals" and who he said made mostly anonymous calls to their pastor to complain about the black couple's wedding."

    First time I've ever heard the term "radicals" used as a euphemism for racist rednecks!

    July 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • 19faye62

      It's call sugar coating,,,, If it quack like a duck, it's a duck. It's funny how this pastor thought that marrying this couple elsewhere was a solution instead of dealing with the real issue. Amazing,

      July 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  17. Rinsewind

    I don't think "radicals" is the word we're looking for here. A better fit would be "reactionaries." The best fit would be "stupid, bigoted reactionaries."

    July 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  18. southernsugar

    Having lived in Mississippi for a few years, I'm not surprised at this situation. That's just the way it is, like it nor not. I suggest the couple move to another part of the state or move out of state.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Why don't you move southernsugar? I guess you are ok with it since it doesn't affect you huh? Why should they move? It is the Christian Bigots who should leave, or better yet kill themselves.

      July 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Skwisgaar Skwigelf

      Thats is brutals mingles. I will rings my bell if they kills themselves!

      July 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      Oh yeah, that'll fix the problem. southernsugar, you must be such a good neighbor.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  19. ReligousPoopShoot.com

    Any religion based on Jesus Christ is gonna lick balls, because Jesus does in fact lick balls.
    AO

    Fuk Jesus and Mohammed, fuk them up their stupid as.ses.
    UD

    Jesus and Mohammed are one-note jokes that only retards follow. They’re fuking clown shoes. If they were real I’d beat the sh.it out of them for being so stupid.
    CS

    July 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jesus and Mohammed

      All you motherfukers are gonna pay! You are the ones who are the ball-lickers! We’re gonna fuk your mothers while you watch and cry like little whiney bi.thches. We’re gonna make you eat our sh.it, then sh.it out our sh.it and then eat your sh.it that’s made up of our sh.it that we made you eat!

      July 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Nette

      Can't you communicate better and more respectfully than this?

      July 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Skwisgaar Skwigelf

      That is brutals! Whats a great religions, I wants to joins!!

      July 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of the Irish soccer fans who throw p.i.s.s bombs on the opposing teams fans. Classic!

      July 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      Spoooooooorts Fan WHAT UP

      July 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Hey Sam !!!

      July 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  20. tony

    In Florida they could have stood their ground.

    July 30, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      In Florida, they are all Jews in wheelchairs. How can they stand their ground?

      July 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Kevin McCormack

      The First Baptist church of Crystal Springs, Ms. is NOT a Christian church, it is a house of bigots ! Christian = Christ-like, this building & it's pastor are NOT Christ-like. They have NO conception of the meaning "Christian"..One would assume the choir wheres white robes with matching hoods ! Pastor ( and I say that only because that's what "his" followers" call him), Stan Weatherford, he is NOT a minister, he is nothing more than a weakling who wanted to save his job ! WHAT A DISGRACE TO CHRISTIANITY ! What a DISGRACE TO AMERICA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Mr & Mrs Wilson, God bless you. I apologize for the ignorence of these incredibly stupid & bigoted people...
      know that you are loved by this nation, by God and by me. Kevin McCormack

      July 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      No, they are basic Christians. Total A.s.s holes.

      July 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.