Julie Atwood was shocked and horrified to find out that the pastor of Tampa’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church abruptly called off the funeral service after reading her son’s obituary and discovering he was survived by a husband.
“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” said Pastor T.W. Jenkins. “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.”
Jenkins, who rails against same-sex marriages in his pulpit, told Atwood it would be “blasphemous” to hold the funeral at his church, reported WFLA-TV.
Julion Evans, 42, legally married his partner of 17 years, Kendall Capers, in Maryland before dying of a rare illness, amyloidosis, after a four-year battle.
“Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship,” Capers said. “We didn’t keep secrets.”
Atwood told the media she was baptized at New Hope when she was a child, and that several family members still attend. Atwood now attends another church.
The mother said she decided to hold her son’s funeral service at New Hope, which can accommodate hundreds of mourners, something her own church cannot.
The abrupt cancelation left less than 24 hours for Evans’ family to make backup arrangements, and some mourners showed up at the wrong church and missed the funeral.
“It was devastating,” Atwood said. “I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
Capers said called the abrupt cancellation of the funeral “disrespectful” because it had already been planned.
“This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s,” Capers said. “So at the end of the day I just want his wrongdoing to be exposed.”