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Community rallies in support of black couple blocked by church

Mississippi congregations rally together in a town where a black couple were told they couldn't marry in a "white" church. WLBT's Roslyn Anderson reports.

Hundreds of people turned out in Crystal Springs, Miss., to support an African-American couple who says a predominantly white Baptist church where they planned to wed turned them away because of race.

The city of Crystal Springs organized the rally to send a message of unity, NBC affiliate WLBT of Jackson, Miss., reported. People held hands in prayer while First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs pastor Rev. Stan Weatherford and New Zion United Methodist Church pastor Rev. Fitzgerald Lovett embraced.

"I pray that God will take a very difficult situation and that he will turn it into good and that we will move beyond tolerating each other," Weatherford told WLBT.

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson told WLBT last week they got the news from Weatherford the day before their long-planned nuptials.

A black couple in Mississippi say they were forbidden to wed at the predominantly white church they attend. WLBT's David Kenney reports.

"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.

Couple say Mississippi church blocked wedding because they are black

The Wilsons regularly attend First Baptist but are not members there.

Weatherford performed the wedding at a nearby church.

Weatherford said he was taken by surprise by what he called a small minority against the black marriage at the church.

"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 said.

"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," he said.

The leader and first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention said Monday that the church's decision not to marry a black couple "is unfortunate" and "an isolated incident from which pastors can learn."

"What we can learn from it is that we need to talk to our membership about issues," Luter said in an interview for the Baptist Press. "I think if the pastor would have talked to more members about this … when this situation occurred … it probably would not have happened the way it happened."

The Wilsons are apprehensive despite the show of support at the rally.

When First Baptist Church member Greg Duke approached Charles Wilson with an invitation to Sunday School "to get to know the people, not just the ones that created some problems," Wilson revealed his misgivings.

"When you say come to the church, are the same people that put us out of the church still there? How have they changed? Do we know them when we see them, because remember, when I was there last time I was told, 'Welcome,'" Wilson said according to WLBT, as he stood beside his wife.

Baptist leader: Decision not to wed black couple must be a learning experience

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