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.”
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"Their pastor, Stan Weatherford, made the request on behalf of some congregants who didn't 'WANT' to see the couple married there".... Another example of "All action, no knowledge". It's truly sad this happened.
F#@% them. Take away their tax status retroactively!
Your mean I say just take it away going forward!!! LOL
My sentiments exactly.
Goodbye Church of 150 years, hello... Community Center for Minority children!
you cant close them down for the Kevin, law suit probable, but not likely to succeed.
wouldnt a community center for strictly minority children be discrimatory
So open minded, tolerant and accepting.
Let me guess, you're a self styled liberal?
@nah Stop the liberal crap. This has nothing to do with being liberal. The crooked christian church is showing its true roots.
@ Ken, you generalize a bit much too..."the crooked christian church"....for all we know the "complaint" came from 1 or 2 parisioners.
The problem is that if you are G-od fearing You can't do wrong. I don't care if it was 1 or 100. if G-od is your pilot, you have to be perfect. I know it's a tough burden. BUT DEAL WITH IT.
When the catholic church has a s-ex scandal, that was hidden by those in charge (sounds like Penn State). You can't generalize too much.
The church, at least the members who made this decision, lost its way, they need to re-study and understand Jesus's words and story. Otherwise they cannot call themselves Christians. They have lost the way, the essence.
These people should know this stuff by now; especially that so called preacher
Judeo-Christian Mythology is directly responsible for most of the western worlds, ignorance and blind hatred (just as Emperor Constantine desired). Throw down the chains of Judeo-Christian Mythology. Man created God.
The most intelligent words I've read so far! This whole story drips with delicious irony! The hypocrisy of these religious types is simply irresistible. Religion is cake! Let them eat it!
They need to ask GOD for forgivness. Not the couple.
They need to do both, true repentance is making amends with the people you hurt.
They can't ask G-od because he doesn't exist. Besides, G-od wasn't offended. It was the couple!
Why do blacks even ever get married? Don't they lose dat welfah and dat foo stap?
I see the Christian Republican Teabaggers are commenting. Nice handle by the way you subhuman bigot.
mortal: "I see the Christian Republican Teabaggers are commenting. Nice handle by the way you subhuman bigot."
That you can't tell that "Nate" is a troll is an indication that you have sub-standard intelligence.
That you're liberal confirms it.
You are clearly an ignorant person. You obviously lack education and intelligence. It would be wise to learn how to read and write beyond a fourth grade level in order for you to engage in intellectual conversations. If you like I can give you the number to Sylvan. Have a great day.
A black person who holds a Master of Education degree, has never been on welfare and married.
Read your other comment. Loved the one about the African coming for your daughter. Catchy moniker -Nate Higger's- I'm sure thinks it's funny; but ti speaks volumes of the kind of person you must be-a very troubled person.
"That you can't tell that "Nate" is a troll is an indication that you have sub-standard intelligence.
That you're liberal confirms it."
well unless you want to try to claim that he is a liberal trolling then i think it was pretty good guess by mortal.
Oh Nate, Ignorance is bliss, is it not? Maybe you should put down that tallboy and ask someone to read to you a little bit about just a few of these famous folks, who have helped to change the world that we live in...
Maya Angelou, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. , Congresswoman Corrine Brown , Grace Bumbry , Congresswoman Julia Carson , Congressman William L. Clay , Congresswoman Eva Clayton , Alex Haley , Billie Holiday , Quincy Jones , Ambassador Moseley-Braun , President Barack Obama , Colin L. Powell , Dr. Condoleezza Rice , Justice Clarence Thomas... and on and on...
I bet you that 98% of these "christians" are Republicans!
And you would be very wrong.
All the Baptists I know vote Republican but all the Baptists I know Moved from the South to my city in Minnesota so they could get a job because apparently they have no jobs or perhaps this liberal state actually has health insurance regulation, pollution regulation, more White people, fresher air cleaner, a better graduation rate, water than they used to have but screw those liberals who fight and pay for the quality things in life that are so easily taken for granted by the Southerners.
Sure they are sorry now..very sorry that the entire nation now knows what a mean spirit inhabits their church. I doubt Jesus has been with that congregation for years and would probably be asked to leave if he showed up unannounced and unexpected next Sunday. No one would recognize him.
We're sorry we are closed minded bigots and that our pastor lacks the stones to stand up for what is right....
I am thinking this is a black church so I wonder what was the reason.
CNN! Anything but jobs and the economy...anything but jobs and the economy
Are you accusing CNN of being republican!
You are in the BELIEF BLOG. So you pick on CNN because there's no economics here? Pay attention.
You are probably one of the prehistoric creatures that complained about these two people getting married.
Observer, you're right...i'll hope over the cnn main page and read those jobs articles. Nevermind, there are none liked there. Wake up, blinders off, sheep.
Whey are you here then? If you don't like the CNN page, go some where else so you can read others like you. Fox news.
Fox did run the same story with a different spin of course- they kept saying that since the couple were not official members of this "er" church" the pastor was right. Never mind that this couple had been attending this "er" church over a year. I think this couple ought give the pastor and his flock the finger and go somewhere they would be truly welcomed.
You must be a Christian who would just wished CNN and other news sources wouldn't cover your church's rape of children and other atrocities so you can keep gulping the kool-aide and maintaining your delusion.
Ken, i do love this CNN page, thats why i'm here. I applaud CNN's laser focus on social issue columns with little regard to jobs or the economy. It is an eye opening difference from what I read on Fox news.
Anything is eye opening compared to Fox News.
May I suggest, as a show of good faith, devoting the next 3 months of sermons to the wrongs of discriminating against people for ANY reason.
Now that's a great idea..I might even attend those sermons.
It is a sad state of affairs when an apology such as this needs to be made in this country. I thought this was the land of freedom, and that we were free to decide for ourselves how to live our lives, whom to be around and whom to associate with? If they don't want blacks being married at their church, that should be their RIGHT, not privilege, to do so.
America is finally approaching the final swirls down the toilet bowl; we cannot bring them up to our standards after 50+ years of this social experiment, so the only other option now for this country is to dumb everybody else down to their level. Welcome to africa part 2. Leave now, if you still can afford it. The future is looking very bleak for America.
I'm glad your view of things is in a sad state!
I hope they DON'T remove your hateful ost. To let people know that the hate is still strong out there, in some ackwards-bass, ignorant places where people don't understand what freedom of speech, religion, etc. actually mean.
Follow Jesus' teachings, and renounce your hatred. Or have that hate visited upon you Biblical-like.
I sure hope you gentlemen are happy when your daughter comes home with an african next.
Then we'll see who is full of hate.
You have no clue what this country is about and even less clue what being human should be about. What a sad example of wasted sperm you must be.
I agree with you on one point. Hate is a freedom of choice. The problem is IT'S A CHURCH. The people of pro-life, Peace, love, G-od and other holy crap they try to force on everyone else. This is the reason why people make fun of "G-od fearing" individuals. You're the reason people should stop funding religions. As soon as the money dries up, religion will be where it belongs, THE TOILET!
Thank goodness people like you are forced by NORMAL people to stay on the fringes. This church was the right to do whatever they want BUT they should lose their tax exempt status (there is a thing called consequences for your actions).
Where do you live? Is it that sad & boring that this is what you do in your free time....stewing in your on hate & insecurities? Go to the beach, go to a nightclub, go get an education, go get a job, or go get laid.... maybe something will help you feel better about your "sad state." Most of us that don't have hate-blinders on are doing just fine, but thanks for being concerned.
Wishing you find something in your sad life to be happy about.
She has, she did..the grand-kids are smart and beautiful and 100% more human than you. Daddy is a smart and good man and she is happy. Sorry but you are the sad piece of doo doo here. Hope your life gets better.
You're a Republican, right?
You can always take your quaka behind somewhere in the desert and live
I'm sorry....whaaaat? Who can't be brought up to our standards, the church, or the couple trying to get married? What standards? To what "social experiment" are you referring, because it sounds like you're referring integration. That's not a social experiment; that's overcoming the boundaries of hate, dismantling the walls of ethnocentricity so prevalent 50 years ago, and obviously still an issue in the deep South. I'm not sure what's more offensive, your blathering ignorance or your obscene screen name. I'm embarrassed and appalled that people like you still exist. Your advice is to leave America if you can afford it? Be my guest, as we'd be a LOT better off without ignorant people like you ruining it for the rest of us.
you white folks think you own america but you jus a bunch of immigrants yourself. lest not forget about the true people whole came there first 'the native indians' they aint complaining about nobody but you folks who tried to chase them outta the country
The future for America is unbelievably bright! Racism is no longer acceptable. The culture is changing to one of acceptance instead of hatred. This is true to the spirit of Christ. (Do you even realize that Christ was not white? He was Middle Eastern, and looked like those around him–so much so that the Romans couldn't pick him out from among his apostles. He almost certainly had brown skin, brown eyes, and the average height then was 5'1" so he was very short.)
Just more evidence that organized religion is nothing more than organized hate fests
If I followed your logic to its' natural conclusion, then more than 99% of the world's population gathers in some religious ceremony where they learn to hate each other. Sorry, I think you are exageratting!
well, a 100% of the worlds wars right now revolve around religious intolerance and hate, so I think i'm spot on
Sad how ignorant people in Miss still are....
If this were to happen to a white couple, you would know the rest of the story. How would you ask someone to move the wedding venue right before their wedding? Are these "Christians" that much thoughtless?
If this were to happen to a white couple, that white couple would simply go on to another church where they are wanted, and that would be the end of it. No CNN headlines, no whining and moaning about "racism".
There is a difference between "equality" and "special treatment", and it is clearly obvious which blacks are demanding these days.
No you romon, they would sue. As is their right, if they are being discriminated against.
M, not likely they can sue. It's a tough arguement.
A church has all right to discriminate to the fullest extent. Schools, employers, realtors, however, do not.
A church should be fully separate from government; they may do as they please as far as allowing membership.
@Nate Higgers Are you saying the the church should pay taxes and not be tax exempt!
Actually, if a verbal contract was reached between the church or pastor and the couple to be married at the church, then they have a chance of winning the lawsuit. I am more puzzled by the fact that it should have been no secret that the church and its members were hateful. Why would they ask to be married there?
Why people of color would ever want to be associated with a biggoted intolerant religious organization like Southern Baptists is beyond me.
As a black person, that's one thing that annoys me about SOME black people! We tend to try extra hard to be in other people's clubs. Besides, the SBC once supported slavery vehemently. Is it really a surprise that there's racism in the church? Guess what, my fellow blacks, life is unfair and people don't have to love us. What if I decide to form a "club" that denies membership of certain types of people? There's no way I'd apologize for that! Let's not forget history! Remember who "brought you into the church" in the first place. The body of your Christ is broken, and will always be. Accept that fact, and quit whining! It's gotten really old!
They aren't sorry, they just hate that their true colors have shown. Why this couple still allowed the pastor to marry then is puzzling but I know for sure he would not have married me or anyone of my loved ones.
Isn't Christianity great! As long as you ask Jeeeesus for fogiveness later you can do anything and still come out morally superior to all hell-bound non-True Christians®.
The damage to the world around Christianity when something like this happens is devastating. Now everyone thinks this is how Christians behave.....The apology was sort of ok – but the words did not seem good enough....what actions followed these words to let this couple know they were truly sorry....If the church really wanted to undo some the damage they have done here – there should have been a public apology for the whole to see and hear. I truly pray this couple finds an awesome church where ALL are welcome. My church is all colors and we have a blast.....I am so sorry to you – you are a beautiful couple
This little incident doesn't even begin to fill one tenth of a thimble of the mountains of damage caused by Christianity throughout the centuries.