Just a few days after news broke that a Baptist church in Mississippi had refused to marry a Black couple, it appears as if that church’s leaders are changing their tune.
In case you’re not familiar with the story, here’s what the Associated Press reported:
Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson say they had set the date and mailed invitations, but the day before their wedding they say they got bad news from the pastor of predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs: Some members of the church complained about the black couple having a wedding there.
The Wilsons, who live in nearby Jackson, said they attend the church regularly although they are not members.
The church’s pastor, Stan Weatherford, acquiesced to the racist congregants’ demands and moved the ceremony to a nearby church, but the damage was already done, and a public outcry soon followed. While many people expressed their surprise and frustration at the church via various social media outlets, the Wilsons themselves took to CNN to talk about their experience.
“All we wanted to do in the eyes of God was to be man and wife in a church that we thought we felt loved,” said Charles Wilson. “What was wrong with that?”
To many people, there’s nothing wrong with that. And now the church that initially turned away the Wilsons is attempting to right its recent wrong.
At services on Sunday, the congregation's leadership addressed the controversy in a statement read to the church.
"Our many ministries here are open to everyone and have been for many years," the church deacons said in a statement read to the congregation, according to The Clarion Ledger. "We would never consider doing otherwise."
“The deacons made an affirmation that First Baptist Church would be available to minister to anybody in the church or the community. That went over real well," said Copiah County Baptist Association Director George Pat Bufkin, who attended the service. "They're now in the way of amends."
Charles Wilson said that one thing confusing to him about the fact that his wedding was moved is that he was told it was a minority of congregants who didn’t want him and his wife around. “If it was such a minority of people, why didn't the majority stand up and say, 'In God's house we don't do this?'" he said.
Even though the Crystal Springs church is now busy trying to cover up its racism, Charles’ question is a good one for them to think about. If this sort of bigotry is something the majority of the ministry would “never consider,” then why did they allow it to happen even this once? Perhaps that’s because their belief in equality isn’t as important to them as they’d like to think.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)