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. ug

    Who cares.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Herby Sagues

      You mean, who cares that racism is still rampant in many areas of a first-world country? I think everyone should care.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  2. Cindy Tyon. white southerner.

    OK 5th time! talk about censorship! I think it was the n word. I said that the quote above regarding this setting a precedent, is BS! the reason is because they don't want N-Words in their church having a wedding! I am now, and always have been disgusted with my , for lack of a better word, comrades, here in the deep south.. World don't be fooled! Bigotry is alive and thriving here in the deep south! My husband removed my Obama bumper sticker just after the last election for fear that I might be hurt! can you believe that? I just dare them!,, But back to the subject. the wilsons should have happy memories. But instead. this. it's disgusting! Congrats you fake christians

    August 7, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"My husband removed my Obama bumper sticker just after the last election for fear that I might be hurt! can you believe that?"

      There have been a few African Americans that have woke up and realized that instead of change we all got the same so there might be other reasons that he removed that bumper sticker. Failed promises.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Observer


      Stock market is up over 50% since Bush left it plummeting.
      Top terrorist bin Laden is dead.
      Adding jobs, not losing a half million each month when Bush left.
      No $trillion wars for false reasons.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Cindy Tyon. white southerner.

      he's doing better than I expected, given the state of this nation when he took office. if you think you can do better, put your name on the ballot. I trust him, and support him. this country operates on instant gratification. grow up. own up. stop complaining and do something yourself to make things better. we are spoiled.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”Stock market is up over 50% since Bush left it plummeting.”

      Yeah, the rich keep getting richer under Obama. How safe do you feel your job is Observer.

      Also, the government will not give information on the number of United States military and contractors are still working from the one of the largest embassy on the planet with the Iraqi military. They are not saying “none” but just won't let us know how many. So, we are still in Iraq

      Afghanistan.... still there.

      Guantanamo is still open.

      Government is still run with closed door and back room dealing from both sides.

      And Bin Laden... we got him. We also killed, I believe three United States citizens without trial in drone strikes.

      …. and speaking of Drone Strikes, do you really want to compare notes on how many this recipient of the Noble Peace Prize has killed just because they happened to be in the area when a targeted person was hit?

      And... unemployment is still going up.

      >>>”I trust him, and support him. this country operates on instant gratification. grow up.... “

      You trust Obama.... I'm sorry but you are the one that needs to grow up. If you trust any politician, either DEMs or REPUBs, you are just asking to get hurt. Try this, after Rom came out on top in the primaries and the polls showed him close in some , ahead in others, and tied in the rest, Oba came out and said he was NOW for Gay Marriage. Since he said that, what has he done for the Gay and Lesbian community?

      You say that folks want instant gratification, I think what folks want to see from their politicians is after so many years, results.

      I will ask you to do an experiment. When you pick up your phone today, I want you to say... “Hello Pentagon, I want Guantanamo closed... I will give you one month to have every prisoner out and returned to just being a Navy Base.”

      If it takes you four .. yes four years …If you are still struggling to voice with that simple order in 2016, such then you would be just like Oba and every other politician.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  3. Moofer

    Let us know when they're actually sorry.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  4. Hawk

    They are only sorry that their stupidity, ignorance and prejudice was revealed to the world.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  5. SocialistThinker

    Another fine example of Christian love from the world's biggest group of hypocrites. Granted we all commit sins, but some things are clearly right or wrong. Even an atheist knows that couple deserved to have their wedding there. However, I have to question their choice of churches. Why would they want to get married in a Southern Baptist church? That "religion" has a long racist history.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Yes, SocialistThinker, hypocrits.
      One solution would be for all those christian hypocrits to give up christianity and become socialists. The moral bar would then be so low as to – what am i saying there would be no moral bar – then those ex-christians could just chill out and do all the bad they wish, with no guilty conscious.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Observer


      Do you believe we should have government control of food inspections, air traffic controllers, postal system, national park system, highway system, etc.?

      Are you a socialist?

      August 7, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  6. Kathryn Musial

    That so called apology was the result of an attorney giving them advise for damage control. Change churches people if you have brains and believe in the Golden Rule.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  7. Carlos Marin

    What the church really regrets is the bad PR.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  8. Sagittariuslady

    My, my,my....how "Christian" of them.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  9. Kathryn Musial

    As a born again Christian this type of behavior does not surprise me. And this is why I stay my distance from churches. I hope that this couple sues this church/organization/business and receives some type of settlement. This 'church' has probably shown what is true of most churches....bigotry and discrimination. This is NOT what Jesus would have done.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  10. Observer

    The problem is that far too many Christians believe that the Golden Rule is only to be preached.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  11. Lilyrosalie

    They aren't sorry they didn't let the couple get married there, they are just sorry they were such a poor witness of Chrisitan love and acceptance and that they have received so much bad press.... What Would Jesus have Done?? Not that...... pretty sure from what I've read......

    August 7, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  12. HoldThePhone

    Hold the phone!! Are they allowing blacks to get married now?!?!? Obama! He got us again!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  13. milly

    i cant even imagine the pain this couple endured during what shud be a happy time!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  14. milly

    the pastor should resign for sure. him saying: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.
    What does he mean "This had never been done before" Does he think Jesus and marriage is only for white people and what did he say to the white church elders who told him that?
    Shud have been a fly on that wall

    August 7, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Someone used fire for the first time, electricity...should we not use them because the were never done before?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  15. Cindy Tyon. white southerner.

    I've made 2 comments. they don't show up

    August 7, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Who invited me?

      There is a filter

      For instance I cannot type CONST I T ution without spaces because there is a T I T in it. Try looking at the words, if there is any portion that might be "bad" try spacing it out. Good luck.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • pooh2

      Were they interesting?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • milly

      maybe cause you chose to call youself a white southerner!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • LinCA

      @Cindy Tyon. white southerner.

      You said, "I've made 2 comments. they don't show up"

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cum             as in circumstance
            homo         as in homosexual
            poo           as in spooked
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            vag           as in vague
            wonderful us

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      August 7, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Kathryn Musial

      Just thought....perhaps the moniker of "white southerner' got someones's attention and got your post reported. I hope I am wrong.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • LinCA

      @Kathryn Musial

      You said, "Just thought....perhaps the moniker of "white southerner' got someones's attention and got your post reported. I hope I am wrong."
      Reporting posts no longer does anything.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Cindy Tyon. white southerner.

      interesting the reaction to my name. I did finally get a much edited post up. check it out!

      August 7, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  16. fritz

    The pastor is a spineless coward as well as a religious hypocrite. Stings, don't it, pastor?

    August 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  17. mar

    The word sums it all "BIGOTRY"

    August 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  18. dog

    this story is important as the intolerance of Christians towards others is at an all time high.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  19. Kenny Dex

    To prove their sincerity, the church should fund a second wedding ceremony

    August 7, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Kathryn Musial

      YES! And at least as twice the cost as the original. Plus get their asses sued!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  20. mlg4035

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!! LMFAO!!! A less sincere apology has never been given!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:27 am |
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