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. Me

    NOW they're sorry cuz it made news! I'm tired of racist morons!!! Makes Americans look...well lots of things make Americans look bad

    August 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mike

      Yet we remain the strongest, most free, country in the world. People flock to this country in droves every year.
      How many people do you see breaking into China? How about Mexico? Iran?
      Get my point?
      We are not perfect and yes, we do have to put up with some idiots every once in a while, but would you trade your life here in the U.S. for life in ANY other country? If so, you always have the freedome to renounce your citizenship and leave. Nobody will miss you when you're gone.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  2. fmfgots

    still going strong!!!yeeeeee-hawwwww!!!!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  3. Matt54

    God or Jesus have nothing to do with this racist Pastor.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      The Pastor married them at another church. He was told he would be fired if he married them at the Church.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Mike

      Amen Matt, Amen. This pastor's actions go completely against the teachings of Jesus Christ and are in direct conflict with what he is supposed to be teaching.
      He should have set a better example and simply told those congregants that had a problem with this wedding that they have the option to express their displeasure with the church council if they wish but he would proceed forward with the ceremony.
      That is what he should have done.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm |

    The chances that Ron Paul, Alan Keyes, the Saudi military or even the various popes could be elected in ANY country today +s 0.000000000000000000000 Simple math for a simple people.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  5. DarthWoo

    So...sorry for what they did or sorry that they're living in the Information Age?

    August 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mike

      It is a case of the "I'm sorry because I got caught" syndrome.
      Happens all the time. Not just whites hating on blacks.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  6. WDinDallas

    Iy should be sorry...there were Black Christians long before there was Protestant Christians.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mike

      OK what exactly does that have to do with anything?

      August 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Just a point, bucko.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  7. Linda

    When I was young I thought it was wonderful that we had prevented the secession of states. Now that I'm older, I think perhaps we would have been better off to let some of them go. It's so embarrassing to have articles like this seen all over the world –
    a world so many claim that Americans lead.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Mike

      If you're refering to the Civil War then you are completely ignorant.
      Had the South seceded from the union slavery would have continued there for many more years. This would have kept blacks in bondage for a much longer time.
      How is that a good thing?
      Just because of the actions of a few misguided individuals don't think for a minute that the South should have won the Civil War. That would have been a mistake of epic proportions.
      And don't think that white on black rascism is the only kind there is. Read more than the liberal news that you're accustomed to and you'll see rascism exists on every level.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • New porter

      No kidding. These parishioners are an embarrassment to their religion and demonstrates in living color that the worlds most progressive country really hasn't changed much in 50 years.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  8. Elle

    Amazing. I am black, I am white, I am fat, I am tall, one day we'll all have perfect wings, don't laugh at me.
    All men are created equal? Perhaps the counsel of the Baptist ministries should step in and teach this church a lesson! There is no color in the world, we all bleed red. We all love, work, and respect the American flag. I guess this church must still fly the general lee. Sad.
    MANY congratulations to Te’Andrea and Charles Wilson! May your love grow old, may jumping the broom bring you a strong and loving home for both of you and your future children.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Chris

      "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."

      THAT'S all I needed to hear to understand the root of this story.
      Love not hate, we are all one people.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  9. Pete/Ark

    but the denizens of that locale will NEVER apologize for being the WORST speed-trap in the state

    August 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Jimmy McMillian

    I had no idea that being prejudice was part of the teachings Christ taught us.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  11. David Franks

    This world is going to be a lot better place to live in 10-15 years.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  12. TamarS

    mississippi still has those deeply embedded seeds of bigotry. the ignorance is amazing. what else does this "pastor" teach? wow. the pastor should be relieved of duties.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  13. Julius Raynor

    Very sad day for Mississippi....Now I understand why Obama will never will a state in the south like Mississippi...Racism in the Church too.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Shez

    Thousands, perhaps hundreds, of years from now, human civilization will realize this about all of our social, political, and religious differences. Too bad we won't be around to experience that.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  15. Livelystone

    The voice of repentance has a beautiful sound to it.

    Our Father in heaven who prefers mercy over sacrifice welcomes a contrite heart, and is able to wipe away the tears shed over what has happened.

    Forgiveness is another beautiful thing, and if people are willing to accept that sometimes bad things happen just so that others may be called to repentance in order to see the light, we can all grow closer to God


    August 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Weren't those in church already closer to G-od? It didn't help them any!

      August 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Livelystone

      @Ken Margo

      The idea behind church is a place to go to get close to God.

      Obviously this church was in need of learning more of the truth and love of God than what was seen coming from them, and it appears they are making progress

      Hopefully it will continue


      August 7, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  16. Anti-theist


    August 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  17. Joshua Ludd

    The pastor and those involved have expressed their sorrow that those uppity you-know-whats brought attention their bigotry and racism as well as their complete lack of christian charity and humility and are now crying crocodile tears over their victimization of these people based solely on their skin color.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • MarileeBob

      Very well said, very well said indeed.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  18. jasonbig

    Mississippi, truly an amazing place...

    August 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • in_north_ms

      The church was certainly wrong in denying the wedding, and right in asking forgiveness. But notice Mr. Wilsons statement – I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn't stand up," Jesus would have said "I forgive." not "I blame".

      August 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • MarileeBob

      So now it's their fault? Your eagerness to blame the victims astounds me.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  19. what the ;;

    This is not a church it is a cult or something they are praying to something else not The God they are claiming.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Cindy

      Why can't the apology just be accepted? Just because someone made a mistake doesn't mean they are not Christians. Not one "Christian" is perfect.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Mike

      Who do you mean by "they?" The entire church?
      Because obviously the article states that some in the church were completely unaware of this happening and shocked when they heard it.
      Don't stereotype the entire congregation on the actions of a few. I'm sure the pastor is truly sorry for his decision to not marry these folks and maybe this incident provides yet another learning opportunity for not only this church but society as a whole.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Jay

      Just because the apology can be accepted immediately, doesn't mean the hurt stops.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Cindy If Christians make mistakes just like non-Christians, Why bother going to church if you're no better than anyone else. Part of having "G-od as your pilot is to prevent you from making mistakes. If you're making mistakes, then G-od isn't doing his job.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  20. Carprin

    IN this day and time? Do you mean people still think this way? No wonder mr Obama is having such a hella of a time bring the country together?
    What do Black folks have to do befoe they can be fully accepted as equals?
    Its not like the brother was marrying one of their fair headed mad\idens.
    They Fight and die in the military win olympic medals become President and Firstlady Congressman and Senators NFL Quarterbacks and Head Coaches and and some folks still have to put up with this crap?

    August 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • vernon moreira

      I didn't know they got married

      August 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Padraig

      President Obama is facing opposition because of his political beliefs and how he would like to see the nation go to more of a socaialist naton. During his tenure he has increased unemployement, the banks were able to consolidate and get richer, we are still in Afghanistan, the companies he gave billions to failed, the auto industry also reaped government free money. You can say he was successful in the affordability health care act but he made deals with the unions and pharmaceutical companies. He is replacing a broken system with one that is broken and dismal and it has not even taken off.

      I don't want to hear this was Bush's fault or Eisenhower or George Washington's fault. He is the President, he needs to take responsibility. He has not done so yet.

      August 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I couldn't have said it any better.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @padraig first of all spell socialist correctly. We are drawing down in Afghanistan, we'll be out next year. Which companies he gave billions failed? Auto industry? I don't think so. Financial industry? I don't Think so. The health care system is being phased in and with every phase people are seeing the benefits. The requirement to have health care. Think about this. YOU pay for people NOT having health insurance anyway when they go to the hospital. You think that is fair? if you have a better idea than the mandate lets hear it.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
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.