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. steve

    I guess they forgot which minority group they were hating that week.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  2. robert

    the church is sorry for the bad press they got for being bigots. That's it.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  3. GeorgeMc

    It's amazing how so many want to blame religion. Please, just call what happened by it's proper name, ...RACISM!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • edweird69

      Religion is the scurge of humanity. It represses social growth. The more religion... the more social growth is inhibited. Take the Middle East for example. They live in a theocracy. They still live, like they did, hundreds of years ago.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  4. GeorgeMc

    It's not religion that's the great divider, ...It's RACISM!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • edweird69

      No, religionists hate lots of people Anyone who disagrees with their religion and anyone who is gay. Anyone whom they can scripturally scrutinize, is their next victim.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • GeorgeMc

      @ edweird69 Aaaww, ...Come on. Who cares if someone is gay or not. You're still avoiding the true problem. One group or race thinks that they're better than another group or race. Religion is NOT the problem here. Once again, ...it's RACISM!, ...Ok!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Observer


      "Come on. Who cares if someone is gay or not"?

      Answer: many Christian hypocrites.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • GeorgeMc

      Ok, ok!, ...Have it your way. You blame RELIGION, ...I'll blame RACISM, ...Ok?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • edweird69

      If you think religionists only hate people that are a different problem, you have blinders on. Do you think 9/11 happened because of our skin colors? Nope!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • edweird69

      darnit.. hit that post button before I proorfread. I meant, if you think religionists only hate people because of their skin color, you have blinders on. I'm exhausted. good nite.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • sam stone

      no, GeorgeMc....it is religion that is the great divider. once a group says they have the GOD'S TRUTH, to the exclusion of those who feel different, they are being divisive

      August 7, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • sam stone

      "One group or race thinks that they're better"

      Or they feel they speak for God....

      August 7, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  5. Westerman1

    Once again, religion and the religious show just how narrow minded, bigoted and pathetic they are. The whole group makes me sick and I rejoice in NEVER having to interact with such freaks.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • GeorgeMc

      The real freaks are not in church, ...they're in your local bar.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • sam stone

      No, they are in the church

      August 7, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  6. DeAnne

    That pastor was weak and only concerned about his own position. It doesn't matter that he hurried to find another location. These folks planned for months only to be told on the night before their big day that the plans changed, Yes, I would be finding a lawyer...hitting bigots in their pockets is the only way to show them the error of their way.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  7. trey

    does this story really merit 3 weeks of daily coverage, its been reported ad nauseum, let it go.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  8. aaron

    I hope the church elders ate at Chick Fil-A after turning down the black couple's wedding.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • edweird69

      I guess that would be killing 2 birds with one stone. Let's hate the bw couple, then celebrate at the hate the gay, buy at CFilA.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  9. Loyal Nothern Democrat

    They breed like roaches.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • DeAnne

      What the heck is a "nothern" ? You mean, "nothing" ? Go back to school, troll.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  10. Hmmmm1234567

    For those of you speaking about how their not teaching Christian values hopefully you will take off the blind fold and find the true Christian faith those the adhere strickly to the bible and its values

    August 7, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, brother.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • edweird69

      So, when are you gonna spew your Sunday morning rhetoric about sky daddy, his winged legions of angels, his mansions for his hypocrites, and the lake of fire for those who commit the horrible crime of "not believing something".

      August 7, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • robert

      please look up the, "no true scottsman" fallacy. While you're at it, look at all the other fallacies because those are what religions use to argue why god exists.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  11. jim

    There has never been a greater oppressor and divider than organized religion. How many people have died in the Lord's name? All of the Lords' names? Be kind to your neighbors, help those in need, believe in equal rights for all, share and love. I will NEVER belong to any religious organization that does not follow those exact life principals.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • edweird69

      I like your philosophy.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Jimmy

      Awesome post! Agree with you 100%, just be a moral person, you don't need religion to do this

      August 7, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • GeorgeMc

      Well, I guess you're right. After all, Atheist are better, ...huh?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • robert

      @GeorgeMc, most atheists I know understand that the people should be judged on their character not their beliefs. The people of this church are being judged on what they did, not what they believe. But if you are asking which is better; to believe only so far as can be proven leaving yourself open to changing your mind when new facts reveal themselves or; believing without question the words of bronze age camel hearders who were less scientifically literate than a grade one student and refusing to change your opinion even when all the evidence shows you that you are wrong, and then to force those beliefs on others...I guess I would have to say the scientific approach seems to be more rational.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • sam stone

      GeorgeMc: you imply that there are two choices, atheism and religion.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  12. Loyal Nothern Democrat

    The reception is at Church's Chicken! Free food if you wear a Travon hoodie!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Paul

      You're the problem.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  13. Loyal Nothern Democrat

    They look like the opening scene from the movie 2001.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • URBusted

      Learn to spell – at least you got Democrat right, you right wing troll.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  14. Loyal Nothern Democrat

    Free Brazil nuts were served to all.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  15. chedar888

    Blacks doesn't mot think they are being discrimated like gay people until they get the same treatment from the chruch that say they are black. You black came a long way and should know the pain of being discrimated. How do you like a dose of medicine you got now.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • jim

      You might want to master 3rd grade English before posting.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • edweird69

      I do see a lot of posts, where black people are apalled by the comparison. But, discrimination is discrimination. If A=B then B=A.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  16. Hmmmm1234567

    Those who become members of the true Christian faith would never have to worry about this sort of thing this is what happens when you have false Christianity true Christianity is love.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • edweird69

      Oh right! You mean like Crusades, witch burnings, and the countless other atrocities. When I think of Xtianity the word "love" does not come to mind. Xtians, like any other hate group, picks out their members, and attacks anyone who calls them up on their hypocricy.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Hmmmm1234567

      Edwierd im onviously not talking about the Vatican do you honestly think rhey have Jesus approval they are losing members by the thiusands the ones I speak of dont make you pay just to be a member niether do they charge for rheir services. The ones who commited such atrocities are not members of Jesus flock but are apostates who actually tried to keep the lords light out hence the reason it was called the dark age

      August 7, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • edweird69

      Jesus told a woman, who was impregnated by a rapist, that she should marry him, and he should pay a fine to her father. Doesn't sound like a being I'd care to be affiliated with.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • robert

      again please look up the, "no true scotsman" fallacy. every generation that comes along and claims that we should listen to them because they have it all figured out and the old guard was the real thing. Then they go ahead and make all the same mistakes. When will you people learn than the world we live in now is based on evidence not the word of people whose way of thinking hasn't changed since the bronze age. Lift yourself from your mental dark age and you will be free.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  17. Susan Goldstein

    If a few of us can eradicate the opinions and beliefs of all of us...are we, the many, innocent or guilty? A few of this congregation made this an issue. And the pastor, without asking the rest of the congregation, bent to the wind. HE is weak, and needs to make a full, personal apology. The FEW who objected, need to atone. The majority of the congregation need to lock arms and stand for the words of Jesus "as you treat the least of us, you treat me."

    August 6, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • edweird69

      Gee... and would this extend to the gay members as well? yeh... there's a stretch! I can see that happening. I do believe their "love" is still conditional.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Tom

      On the money!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  18. itrepeats

    Those of you who claim to be Christian, your hate ridden comments do nothing but add fuel to those who call us hypocrites and self serving. Accept the fact you're failing at practicing Christian values and need to re-evaluate yourselves. As for the rest of you with your racial dribble you make me embarrassed to be white. It's sickening to think of our soldiers who lost their lives fighting for your freedom when you have no clue what it means to be a human being.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  19. edweird69

    One thing I've learned this week... hating blacks is "racist"... hating Jews is "anti-semetic".... hating gays is "an opinion". Sure would have been nice to live in a world without any kind of hatred. ho hum... might as well wish there was no cancer too.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Paul

      And hating religious bigots is a war on Christianity and religious freedom.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Observer


      To far too many Christians, "religious freedom" means the "freedom to force their religion on others".

      August 7, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • GeorgeMc

      What do you call hating religion?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • robert

      @GeorgeMc, a rational response to a dictatorship that breeds bigotry and intolerance.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  20. pooh2

    This was a breach of agreement on the part of the church. A good lawyer should be able to take care of it. Apology in such cases is not considered to be sufficient.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • edweird69

      A lawyer? Church's can decide who they will marry and who they won't. They are not obligated by law to marry anyone.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Observer

      Since marriage is a legal matter with optional religious involvement, the church can do whatever they want regardless of the hypocrisy.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • pooh2

      edweird69: the church fist agreed, then when everything was ready for the wedding, the day before the event it unilaterally broke the agreement. Would not you sue in such a case? I would.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • edweird69

      @Pooh2 – does make for an interesting case. I should have read the article more thoroughly (just that hatred is never fun to read about). I believe the pastor, who made the agreement in the first place, did offer to do it "at another location". So he planned to live up to his agreement. He just was bullied into, at first, not doing it at the planned church. If I understand the article correctly.

      August 6, 2012 at 11:49 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.