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. FOR REAL......

    They need to take the sign out front down. This group no longer qualifies to be called a church!

    August 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  2. Mateo

    As long as there's "religion" there'll never be peace. Faith is not necessarily the same.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  3. SeniorMoment

    I bet the pastor is sorry, now that the church has gotten a bad name and exposed itself to civil damages for breach of contract.

    An unfortunate truth though is that there are biased congregations, probably in many denominations. In fact my wife knows of one that is in a neighborhood that is transforming into a different community. The congregation isn't even willing to rent space to the neighborhood community, but will with certainty die off because the congregation is now too small to fiancially support the critical building maintenance. It basically consist of a bunch of elderly women who are not willing to face reality while the building still has some value.

    Congregations die of bigotry every day, but this one was the first one stupid enough to commit breach of contract..

    In my view though Christianity has no home for bigot, so this congregation wasn't Christian after all.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  4. rob

    The NRA, the Republicans, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, should get a little of their own shooting medicine instead of innocent people all the time

    August 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  5. Rev Ed

    It is churches like this that give all Christians a bad name. I can't believe how prejudiced and backwards some people are in this day and age. Unfortunately many churches practice a type of Christianity that I think Jesus Christ would denounce.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Actually...its all christians that give all christians a bad name.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Serge

      Well said my friend..

      August 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • fmfgots

      who invited you? you give the human race a bad name to GOD

      August 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Rev Ed

      I would agree that about 80% of Christians give Christianity a bad name. There are some who do not have the backwards view of what Jesus was teaching. It is like what Gandhi once said " I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians." I think so many people have been turned off by Christianity because of these types of events.

      August 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      ALL christians would allow someone else to accept their just punishment...it is the basis of your religion. That is an immoral thing to do...it is not allowed in our courts ever...we ALWAYS want the guilty to be punished.
      ALL christians accept this IMMORAL point of view, and as such are immoral themselves, thus christians give christians a bad name

      August 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Mister completely

      there are no "bad" churches – they're just misunderstood...

      August 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Serge

    If these "church members" had thought about their actions before they objected to this couples marriage ceremony, then they would not have had to write this half ass apology. Its hard to understand why some people cant or just don't think before they act or speak. This world would have the potential to be such a better place.. SMH

    August 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • fmfgots

      and yet you have no potential "cant" try can't.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Rick

    God loves you!!!!! Jesus saves!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, by the way, you can't get married here if you're black. Now, an "apology." Actions speak louder than words- This group sounds just a step removed from the nutjobs at Westboro Baptist Church.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Rev Ed

      Yes those Westboro bunch are really something else. I don't believe in a God that teaches us to hate one another.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  8. PeteH

    Mississippi: Embarrassing the rest of the country since 1817.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • fmfgots

      and you embarassing you family sinse the day you were born

      August 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  9. fmfgots

    ut of, i think i may have been kicked out

    August 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • fmfgots

      not!!!!!!this is my response to ladysal

      oh sure first mix ed marriage, them sa me se x marriage, what's next hu man and animal marriage. The leftist want to destroy the church, period.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  10. Chuck

    It's easier to apologize ...

    Nowhere in that apology does the church state that this will not happen again. Why the actions of a few "concerned" parishioners were allowed to derail this couple's wedding, and what steps are being taken to prevent that from happening again.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  11. Truth

    America should be free to sell finely packaged poop baskets of religious lies to black and white alike.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  12. ziggy2

    Poor Rev. Weatherford caught between a rock and a hard place – tsk, tsk...

    August 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  13. juan

    worse thing have hapen in the name of god. that why i dont waste my time with churches

    August 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • fmfgots

      why do you waste your time with life

      August 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  14. bg

    What backwards people. Time for the smart people there to change churches.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  15. Carol

    Crystal Springs Church in their words of apology seem to be more concerned to set the reputation of their Church right, and to be forgiven by Christ Jesus, rather than personally inviting this couple, who were turned away at the last minute, back to their congregation and have a coffee for them to express in words their error of judgment. A hug, and handshake is in order.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Better yet...abandon their false religion, they haven't learned anything from it anyway.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  16. s

    which congregants put up a fit over it? did they threaten violence? i can't think why the pastor would bow to the wishes of a few, unless they were monied or threatening; unless the pastor is racist as well. would love to hear that the congregants who threw the fit over it were asked to find a new church, IF that's what really happened. maybe time for a new pastor as well.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • k.madhukar

      It all started with Jesus himself.When He was born there was a bright white star in the eastern sky.So His followers think this religion is for white skinned people only.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • fmfgots

      It's a bright star appeared in.....not bright white.......it's idiots like you that change the facts to benefit yourself.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      It is the bible that has altered fact to fit its version of the lies it portrays to be truth....

      August 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • fmfgots

      The bible is fact, you cannot understand the fact as truth. Your heart is hardened by the creature you believe is GOD, but you will understand and feel the truth on judgement day when you are sent to the alke of fire with your master satam

      August 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Oh please go on, you're asinine rants are pure comedy.

      August 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If the bible is "fact" Then why is religion referred to as "beliefs". Because it is what you believe. You can choose not to believe it if you want. If it was true it would be called religious "fact", Not religious "beliefs"

      August 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  17. ladysal

    Neither black or white Baptist church believe in the mixing of the races but this has changed over the years. My nephew was turned down by the Baptist Church due to the fact it was a widely held belief that mix marriage is a sin and has been considered a sin for years by several churches but now some church have changed their stance on this. I The good news is there are lots of churches out there who will marry mixed married couples and any couple as long as they are male and female. This could be a good time for this couple to find a church where they are welcomed instead of tolerated.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      These people are bigots too. Mixed marriages a sin? If being mixed is a sin, how do these people conceive? If G-od was against them being together don't you think he would have prevented them form conceiving? More religious nonsense (aka bigotry)

      August 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  18. Charlie

    The Pastor was right first time. This couple were not members of the Church and had no rights there.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • NRA

      Someone should tell MISSISSIPPI that this is the 21st century...

      August 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • mdobserver

      I believe they were members and regular church attendees.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I got married at a church that I didn't attend. There is no excuse. This is the same crooked Christians that want to "save" marriage. The church should have been honored to perform the ceremony. Maybe they would have become members. Maybe the couple would have brought more members. This is another reason why less people are getting married.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • fmfgots

      Ken Margo
      they would have joined and brought in new menbers... there goes the neiborhood.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • fmfgots

      @NRA, someone should tell you to shut the F@#$ up, OH, I just did.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • sir_ken_g

      I detect a B I G O T

      August 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • fmfgots

      don't just read try to understand what you are reading. Read the story again before you post. They were not members of that wonderful church of Christ.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Listen KKK member. I'm tired of your racism. You want to waste time hating people that have done nothing too you. Go ahead. You'll be stuck in cave where you belong for the rest of your miserable life. You are obviously scared of the people you hate so much. Why would you hate about people you think you're superior too? Are you afraid black people will come and take your job because they can do it better? What else are you afraid of? The more hate you spew, the more scared you become.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • RCinMaryland

      Then why did they wait so late to turn the couple down? The church and the couple planned this wedding for quite a while, and then the church turned them away at the last minute because some members did not want a black couple married there for the first time. It had nothing to do with membership status. If so, they would have been turned away for that reason only from the very start.

      August 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  19. n8r0n

    Religion is ignorance and bigotry. Period.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  20. Brenda

    Unbelievable. In 2012 this has happened. I feel awful for them.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • fmfgots

      if you feel awful, maybe you should go down there and make them feel a little better. I'm sure he will let you join in.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:25 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.