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CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
It was to be their big day, but a Jackson couple says the church where they were planning to wed turned them away because of their race.
Now, the couple wants answers, and the church's pastor is questioning the mindset of some of members of his congregation who caused the problem in the first place.
They had set the date and printed and mailed out all the invitations, but the day before wedding bells were to ring for Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson, they say they got some bad news from the pastor.
"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.
The Wilsons were trying to get married at the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs -- a church they attend regularly, but are not members of.
"He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple," said Te'Andrea Wilson. "I didn't like it at all, because I wasn't brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody."
The church's pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, says he was taken by surprise by what he calls 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," said Weatherford.
Weatherford went on and performed the wedding at a nearby church.
"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," said Weatherford.
After months of planning, the newlyweds say they had no choice but to go through with the wedding at the new location, but they still can't understand why a church would ban their wedding because of race.
"I blame the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn't stand up," said Charles Wilson.
Church officials say they welcome any race into their congregation. They now plan to hold internal meetings on how to move forward, should this situation occur again.
"I was prepared to go ahead and do the wedding here just like it was planned, and just like we agreed to," said Weatherford. "I was just looking for an opportunity to be able to address a need within our congregation and at the same time minister to them."