The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs posted the apology on its website Sunday, saying it was seeking “forgiveness and reconciliation” with Charles Wilson andTe’Andrea Henderson Wilson, their families and friends and God.
“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,” reads part of the six-paragraph statement.
However, Charles Wilson said no one from the church had contacted him or his wife.
“I can’t believe they think they’ve apologized,” Wilson said. He said only one or two people from the church have contacted him in recent weeks, and they did so personally and not as representatives of the church.
“You put a thing in the media and say you’ve apologized?” Wilson asked. “That is an insult.”
Church officials did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking further comment Monday.
The Wilsons had planned a marriage ceremony at the church July 21, but some members objected to the Rev. Stan Weatherford after the couple’s rehearsal. The Wilsons have said that Weatherford, the pastor, told them he could be fired if the wedding was held in his church.
The couple’s wedding was held in a predominantly black church, where Weatherford officiated.
Some church members have said that most of the hundreds of congregants didn’t learn what had happened until well after the Wilsons’ wedding.
Crystal Springs, a town of about 5,000 people about 20 miles south of Jackson, is more than 60 percent black. The Wilsons live in Jackson but started attending church there because Weatherford has been a personal friend of Te’Andrea Wilson’s family. Some members of her family have continued to attend church at First Baptist, though the Wilsons have not.
Town officials held a racial unity rally July 30, with Weatherford, Mayor Sally Garland and others praying for racial reconciliation. The Wilsons attended, but Weatherford and the Wilsons did not speak. Weatherford told reporters there he was trying to avoid conflict by moving the wedding and denied that his job had been threatened.
Southern Baptist leaders had called for the church to reconsider, noting that the Baptist Faith and Message, a statement of what Southern Baptists believe, says that “Christians should oppose racism.” State and national leaders of the denomination, though, noted that each church is autonomous, and said the church had to work out its own response.
After being slow to reach out across racial lines, Southern Baptists have made increasing efforts in that direction in the past two decades. Nationwide, about 19 percent of 45,000 Southern Baptist churches are majority-minority, including 3,500 that are majority black.
Earlier this year, the convention elected its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. At the same meeting, delegates voted to give churches the option of calling themselves Great Commission Baptist churches, for those who wish to break free of the Southern Baptist name to seek more followers.
Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson (pictured) were told they could not marry at the predominantly white First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi just one day before their nuptials. Their pastor said members of the congregation had complained about the wedding - which would have been the first between a black couple at the church - and moved it to avoid a controversy. Other churchgoers have expressed their disdain at the members of the congregation who complained.
A couple were turned away from a church where they planned to marry just one day before the wedding because they are black, they have claimed.
Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson, from Jackson, Mississippi, had already sent out invitations for their wedding at the predominantly white First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs.
But a day before their nuptials, Pastor Stan Weatherford told the couple some church members were opposed to the wedding, which would have been the first between a black couple at the church.
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Refused: Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson were turned away from marrying in a predominantly white church after members of the congregation complained
Instead, Weatherford performed the ceremony at another church.
'The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,' Charles Wilson told WLBT TV.
His wife Te'Andrea added: 'People were pitching a fit about us being a black couple. I didn't like it at all because I wasn't brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.'
While the couple are not members of the church, Te'Andrea's father is, and her uncle is employed there. The couple attend the church regularly, they said.
Pastor Weatherford told WLBT TV he was surprised when a small number of church members told him they were opposed to the wedding taking place there.
'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,' he said.
Wedding: Instead the couple was forced to marry at another church
Plans: The couple, who had already set the date and sent out invitations, were told they could not marry at the church just one day before their wedding
Explaining why he held the ceremony elsewhere, he added: 'I didn't want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te' Andrea.
'I didn't like it at all because I wasn't brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody'
Bride Te'Andrea Wilson
'I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.'
But Charles Wilson said he believes the pastor, who he understands was in a difficult position, should have stood up for them.
He added: 'I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn't stand up.'
Church officials told WLBT they welcome people of any race and will conduct meetings on the issue.
'It's not reflective of the spirit of the Lord and Mississippi Baptists,' the Mississippi Baptist Convention executive director, the Rev. Jim Futral, said. 'It's just a step backward. ... It's a sad thing.'
Backing down: Pastor Weatherford said he moved the location of the wedding to avoid a controversy
Scene: Other congregation members at First Baptist Church said they were outraged at the opinion of a few
Congregation members and local officials have said they are disgusted by the actions of some of the members of the church.
'This is a small, small group of people who made a terrible decision,' Church member Casey Kitchens told The Clarion-Ledger.
'I'm just ashamed right now that my church would do that. I can't fathom why. How unfair. How unjust. It's just wrong.'
In the face of the reports, Mayor Sally Garland announced she will host a gathering in Crystal Springs on Monday to show that the city is united against racism.
'This is not a reflection of our city,' Garland said. 'We're not going to let this define us.'
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