The Cyber-Repentance of Sins (click for forgiveness)

From FBC Crystal Springs’ Facebook page, a photo of the congregation may give us a sense of the heart of the black and white issue. The responsibility for diversity in the church is one we all share.

The leadership of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MS has taken the practice of passive-aggressive social media behavior to a new level.

Once again, I’m reminded of Rodney King‘s wisdom:

Three weeks after its refusal to host the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson and the racial firestorm that followed, FBC-Crystal Springs has apologized for its behavior – online.

Charles Wilson believes his “apology” got lost somewhere in the threads of social media.

Charles and TeAndrea Wilson received an online apology from the leadership of First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss.

Wilson and his wife Te’Andrea were denied the right to be married in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MS because they are black.

The church posted an apology on its website last Sunday. And their online repentance had them back in God‘s good graces, they thought.

But Wilson said no one from the church has contacted him or his wife.

“I can’t believe they think they’ve apologized,” Wilson said. He said only one or two people from the church have contacted him in recent weeks, and they did so personally, and not as representatives of the church.

“This wrong decision resulted in hurt and sadness for everyone. Both the pastor and those involved in the wedding location being changed have expressed their regrets and sorrow for their actions,” reads part of the six-paragraph cyber statement.

“You put a thing in the media and say you’ve apologized?” Wilson asked. “That is an insult.”

So far, church officials have not responded to media inquiries about their online apology.

The Wilsons had planned a marriage ceremony at the church July 21, but some members objected to the Rev. Stan Weatherford after the couple’s rehearsal. The Wilsons have said Weatherford, the pastor, told them he could be fired if the wedding was held in his church.

The couple’s wedding was held in a predominantly black church, where Weatherford officiated.

Some church members have said that most of the hundreds of congregants didn’t learn what had happened until well after the Wilsons’ wedding.

Crystal Springs, a town of about 5,000 people about 20 miles south of Jackson, is more than 60 per cent black. The Wilsons live in Jackson but started attending church there because Weatherford has been a personal friend of Te’Andrea Wilson’s family. Some members of her family have continued to attend church at First Baptist, though the Wilsons have not.

Southern Baptist leaders had called for the church to reconsider, noting that the Baptist Faith and Message, a statement of what Southern Baptists believe, says that “Christians should oppose racism.” State and national leaders of the denomination, though, noted that each church is autonomous, and said the church had to work out its own response.

After being slow to reach out across racial lines, Southern Baptists have made increasing efforts in that direction in the past two decades. Nationwide, about 19 per cent of 45,000 Southern Baptist churches are majority-minority, including 3,500 that are majority black.

Earlier this year, the convention elected its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. At the same meeting, delegates voted to give churches the option of calling themselves Great Commission Baptist churches, for those who wish to break free of the Southern Baptist name to seek more followers.

For related articles on this site, please see the following posts:

The Church in Living Color: Can Black + White = Beige?

The Black and White of Dark and Light: Self-Segregation in the Church of the South

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