Julie Atwood was standing at her son’s casket when the phone rang. New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, the place where her son’s funeral was to be held the following day, was on the other line. What they told her was shocking.
Atwood said she was told it would be “blasphemous” to hold the services at the church because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay. “It was devastating,” she said. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
Evans’ husband, Kendall Capers, says the pair were partners for 17 years and married last year in Maryland. Evans died at home after a 4-year battle with a rare illness called Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body.
He says the obituary named him as “husband,” and that their marriage was no secret.
“Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship,” he said. “We didn’t keep secrets.”
Evans’ mother says she was baptized at the church as a child and several of her family members attend. The church was also selected because it would hold the amount of people who planned on attending the funeral.
Atwood’s current pastor agreed to preach at New Hope. But when the obituary published in the local paper, the church rejected the family’s request.
The church’s pastor T.W. Jenkins says he wasn’t aware that Evans had a husband or was gay until members of his congregation saw the obituary and called to complain.
“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” Jenkins told WFLA. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”
Due to the last minute changes, Evans’ family scrambled to make new arrangements for the funeral. With less than a day to prepare, they were unable to notify everyone. Some mourners showed up at the church and missed the funeral.
What a sad case of events.
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