A predominantly white church in Mississippi has refused to marry a couple because they are black.
Just two days before their scheduled wedding, Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were forced to change venues after the Rev. Stan Weatherford told them that some church members were uncomfortable with the black couple getting married in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs.
“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 Wilson,WLBT-TV in Jackson reports.
Insiders say five or six members went to Weatherford after seeing the couple’s wedding rehearsal the Thursday night before their Saturday wedding, the Clarion Ledger reports.
Weatherford said he was surprised by the reaction of some church members.
“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,” Weatherford told WLBT-TV.
The 150-year-old church hasn’t had any black couples married there in modern times. Weatherford married the couple but moved the ceremony to a nearby church, the Ledger reports.
“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,” said Weatherford, WLBT-TV reports.
Charles Wilson said it was a huge disappointment that he and his bride couldn’t get married at the church they attended because of the color of their skin.
“I feel like it was blatant racial discrimination,” said Wilson.
Wilson said he had been attending the church for about a month and his new wife had been attending for more than a year. His wife’s father also attended the church, and her uncle was custodian at the church, the Ledger reports.
Wilson said he understands Weatherford was caught in a difficult position and he still likes the pastor, but he also thinks the pastor should have stood up to the members who didn’t want the couple to marry in the church, the newspaper reports.
Mississippi Baptist Convention Executive Director the Rev. Jim Futral said what happened was unfortunate, the Ledger reports.
“It’s not reflective of the spirit of the Lord and Mississippi Baptists,” Futral said. “It’s just a step backward. … It’s a sad thing.”
The church is holding internal meetings to decide out how it should respond to future wedding requests by black couples, WLBT-TV reports.
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