Amid public outcry over its refusal to wed a black couple, First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Miss., issued an apology Sunday, expressing regret and admitting to being wrong.
"As a church, we express our apology to Te'Andrea and Charles Wilson for the hurt that was brought to them in the hours preceding their wedding and beyond," the church stated. "We are seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with our Lord Jesus Christ, Te'Andrea and Charles, family and friends of the Hendersons and Wilsons, our church family, and our community for the actions and attitudes that have recently occurred."
Te'Andrea and Charles Wilson had planned to marry at First Baptist, a predominantly white church, in July. But at the last minute, the couple was told that they would have to move the wedding to a different church. First Baptist Pastor Stan Weatherford said a small minority in his church opposed the wedding and thus to avoid conflict he decided to perform the wedding at a nearby church.
The Wilsons would have been the first black couple to marry at the 150-year-old church.
The move was met by protest by the public as word spread.
Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said he cringed when he heard about the church's refusal to marry the African-American couple. First Baptist, he said, should seek repentance and reconciliation.
"Mississippi Christians know, perhaps better than the rest of the country, just how satanic and violent racial supremacy can be," Moore stated. "We have danced with the devil and we ought to recognize him when he returns. But that's precisely why Mississippians ought to be the ones to lead the way in showing the church what biblical reconciliation and revival looks like.
"A church that prized carnal divisions over color of skin or cultural background is a church that isn't finding its identity outside of the flesh and in a Jewish Messiah seated at the right hand of God," the Southern Baptist emphasized. "The church is made up of people who have lost everything. We are dead. We prize nothing about what we used to take such pride in, and we instead see ourselves as executed and raised in Christ."
John Piper, an influential Reformed theologian who has repented of his past racism, agreed with Moore, tweeting, "The gospel lost. Rise up FBC."
In its statement Sunday, First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs recognized that it is made up of "sinful, redeemed, but flawed saints who intentionally at times choose not to follow the Lord's will."
Expressing regret for moving the wedding, the church added, "We, the church, realize that the Hendersons and Wilsons should never have been asked to relocate their wedding. 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."
The church also affirmed that it should be open to "all people."
Still upset by the incident, Charles Wilson said he believes the church is "misleading the public," according to CNN.
"The pastor has not spoken to us since a couple days after the incident. We have not heard from the pastor or any church official since the incident," he said Sunday.