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. symphorian

    All such as are led by the SPIRIT OF GOD are HIS children. i really weep as to what the term christian has become. people need to be born again of the spirit of GOD to be called christian meaning follower of christ or acting the way christ would. The pastor would have stood his ground against the bigots but alas he preferred the approval of men than to do the right thing. discrimination should be anathema in the house of the GOD and We christians should be ready to sacrifice so that one soul is won for the kingdom. this is a horrible testimony. this church needs to declare a fast and pray for forgiveness of those who did this shameful thing.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Lee

      "discrimination should be anathema in the house of the GOD" Yeah right. As if the christian religion hasn't been filled with bigoty and racism it's entire existance.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  2. Dave

    Don't worry, white nor black will be around much longer! We goin brown!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      Speak for yourself; 100% Anglo-Saxon, and my family will forever remain pure-blooded. One drop rule.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  3. Stephen Secaur

    As a pastor myself, I want to say that Stan Weatherford was a gutless S.O.B. in this situation. He is mostly to blame for not standing up to the morons in his congregation. More concerned about his own security than living out the Gospel of Jesus.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Dave

      You don't know his mama b.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  4. Joe Cornelius

    I think that the pastor, Stan Weatherford, should have insisted that the ceremony be performed at his church. It seems to me that, if you do not believe that the congregation has made the correct and moral choice, you do not assent to their choice or assist them to achieve their clearly racist intent. Race relations in America have gotten a lot worse since the election of our half black president and will probably continue to do so. I'm going to start carrying my gun since it is clear to me that it is dangerous to be different, especially Black, in America!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  5. Atheisticallyyours

    As long as religion exists, there will ALWAYS BE RACISM!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Dave

      Then when there is no other races, we point fingers at each other. Bring on the holy!

      August 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      As long as naggers exist.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Dave

      Nate, you know before you came out, there was black goin in.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      Abort black ape babies, BEFORE they become future felons.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  6. maryj

    i do not think their apology is sincere, if it were they would have gone to the couple first instead of to the media. this is just to cover up what is still in their heart, and they truly need to repent, God will settle the score, they probably need to just stay home because what they are learning at church seems to be of no benefit to them. if you have not love for your brother you are none of his!!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  7. pfharry

    Hey god: suspend the baptist butt heads from your team. Hey IRS: pull their tax exempt status. My words may hurt, but your actions spoke much louder and cut much deeper. Oh I forgot, you all believe that Jesus will forgive you, so why even bother with a puny and hollow apology. I know you all just want to keep your jobs. Regards, to you and yours. 🙂

    August 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  8. Loyal Nothern Democrat

    The problem was that they would not allow her to marry the 6 fathers of her 5 children at the same time.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Math was never your strong suit, was it ?

      August 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Dave

      Gota factor in the paternity test hasn't been done on one. Omg this is so terrible but much fun!

      August 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      It would have been a miracle if they actually knew who all the b@stard's non-fathers were.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  9. Mike Rey

    What 2012!!!! Some things will never change...see you bigots in Hell!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  10. topperG

    what a load of BS, typical Baptist hypocrocy......

    August 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  11. boomboom

    Typical Religious Hypocrisy.........where are they hiding their Robe's ?

    August 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  12. Afia

    I understand people making mistakes and wanting forgiveness, but these people clearly knew the full implications of their actions and proceeded with them anyway. The apology is even more insulting than the act itself. If you are going to be a blatant racist, stand by your values when confronted...that is just the bottomline.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Alpha

      "The apology is even more insulting than the act itself."

      Care to elaborate further why you said so?

      "If you are going to be a blatant racist, stand by your values when confronted"

      Sorry we're NOT egotists as atheists.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Jkld

    Not only IS the "church" to blame, but the minister clearly didn't have the balls to stand up and tell the bigots NO! Had he done the right thing in the first place – telling the bigots off and telling them to get lost – this incident would have NEVER happened.

    But no, the minister is as much to blame as the bigots are.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  14. CZGuy

    Hey, the church collectively made its decision... I say stand by it. Seems like they are just buckling because of the negative press they've been receiving. You can't decide to discriminate, then apologize for the discrimination. This isn't 1964 and my guess is not many people are waking up and thinking, 'Oh jeez... it's bad to discriminate... I can't believe how wrong I was... yesterday' on a daily basis.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Coffeeclue

    A CHURCH of all places... a CHURCH. How disgusting. A place of love that only loves its own color. So now they apologize to God and all is well. Religion is really very convenient. You can do garbage, as long as you say a prayer afterwards.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  16. Jim

    Shame on them. They are apologizing because they got caught in the media. Take the heat because you earned it. You reap what you sow.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • You seemed to be extremely misguided


      Chick-fil-a was even threatened by some (pro-gay) states not be issued business permits aside from outrage of gay community and its supporters. So allow me to ask you one question, did Chick-fil-A ask apology.

      No, it's a matter of knowing and accepting right or wrong. Media has nothing to do with it. The article published about it that was published last July has not even reached 1,000 comments.

      Please go back to your senses.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  17. Bungwe Phil

    the church acted unfairly and irrationally. it was a racially-motivated decision aimed at frustrating the couple. i totally agree with the couple. the apology is just an insult and to mislead the public. shame on you church members and its leaders. do you mean to tell the world that God only spoke to you after you made the stupid decision. I am so disappointed. shame on you church, especially the so called pastor. you misled the congregants.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  18. JanetMermaid

    I have a hard time believing they're really sorry. Bigots don't change their colors that quickly. More likely it's hurt their pocketbook and that's what they're sorry about.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • You seemed to be extremely misguided


      Chick-fil-a was even threatened by some (pro-gay) states not be issued business permits aside from outrage of gay community and its supporters. So allow me to ask you one question, did Chick-fil-A ask apology.

      It has nothing to do with anything than knowing and accepting right or wrong.

      Please go back to your senses.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  19. lepke

    This decision scarred the couple and many others for life. No amount of apology can fix it. They apologize for hating them because of the color of their skin. Would that change their heart overnight? Will they suddenly see black people as equal to them? This apology is not enough.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • I beg of you

      Please tell us what is "enough for you, lepke.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  20. maniacmudd

    Racist white trash

    August 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      Fuggin n!ggers.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:53 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.