Outrage and confusion have followed media reports that a black couple planning to get married at a church in Jackson, Mississippi, were turned away because of their race. Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were set to get married at First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs when some congregants successfully pushed to ban their nuptials.
The invitations were sent and the bride and groom were preparing to exchange vows — and they received the disturbing news just two days before the wedding. The pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, was told by congregants that no blacks could be married in the church and that, if he conducted the ceremony, he would essentially lose his position.
Although they are not members of the house of worship, the couple said that they attend regularly and, prior to the incident, they felt loved by the mostly-white church body.
“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,” said Charles.
“[The pastor] had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” added Te’Andrea.
While Charles and Te’Andrea were disturbed by this treatment, Weatherford, too, claims to have been taken aback. The pastor ended up performing the wedding at another location and he has spoken out about his congregation’s handling of the situation.
“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 explained. “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 wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”
While Weatherford wanted to avoid scandal, it seems this story continues to make waves as it spreads across America. In the wake of the incident, WBRC-TV reports that the church is looking into how to handle subsequent situations (i.e. black weddings) if and when they emerge in the future.
In the end, Charles and Te’Andrea got their wedding, but the couple aren’t happy about their race preventing them from exchanging vows at the church. They also have some tough words for the congregants — including the pastor (who did end up marrying them at an alternative location).
“I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs,” said Charles. “I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn’t stand up.”
Members of the church have come out and apologized to the family and denied that the house or worship embraces racist sentiments.