Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson fell and love and got married — but not in their home church.
The wedding invitations had already been printed and mailed out when the Wilsons were told that they could not be married in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi. A number of congregants had threatened the pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, telling him that if he performed a black wedding there, they would vote him out of the church.
Weatherford claimed that he was caught by surprise. "This (referring to the marriage of a black couple) had never been done here before so it was setting a new precedent," he said. "I didn't want to have a controversy within the church and I certainly didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te'Andrea."
Church officials claim that they welcome any race into their congregation. They now plan on holding internal meetings on how to move forward should this situation occur again.
The Wilsons spoke with CNN about their ordeal.
Te'Andrea had attended the church for more than a year. Her father and uncles were members. Charles told CNN that before the wedding, he felt "at home" there and that he "was in the right place, serving the Lord with the right people." Te'Andrea said that she knew the pastor and was devastated when he told her that he would not marry her because a few people in the church said they did not want black people married there.
Some members of the church interviewed by CNN were upset, saying the church was not racist and urged forgiveness for the members who stopped the wedding. Charles told CNN that he wonders why those people did not stand up in support from the beginning. "Why didn't the majority stand up and say in God's house we don't do this? It's easy to come back now when the news has focused on this and say secondhand guess what you would have done or what you would have said, but that was the time to say it. The time was the day before we got married."
Stan Weatherford, pastor of the First Baptist Church, performed the wedding ceremony, but in a different church building.
"All we wanted to do in the eyes of God was to be man and wife in a church that we felt loved," Charles Wilson said. "What was wrong with that? We have a 3-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, and I have to explain to my 9-year-old who's very much aware of what goes on and she went to church there what happened. So tell me, why are we so wrong for pushing what was right?"