A Tampa church has canceled the funeral of a gay man and sparked fresh controversy.
Julion Evans’ mother was standing by his casket at the wake when she received a phone call from the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. The pastor informed the grieving woman that her son’s funeral service, scheduled to occur the next morning, was canceled.
The reason? Because the deceased man was gay.
According to an article in LGBTQNation, Evans and his husband, Kendall Capers, had never made their marriage a secret. Together 17 years, they married just last year in Maryland.
Julion died on July 26th after a four-year battle with amyloidosis, a rare disease which destroys the body’s organs.
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was chosen for its size; Julion’s mother, Julie Atwood, had arranged with her current pastor to perform the funeral service, but with hundreds of people expected to attend, a larger church was needed. The service was scheduled for August 2.
Initially, everything was fine. But, then the obituary came out and members of the congregation noticed that Julion Evans was survived by his husband.
The pastor of the Baptist church has explained his stance; his church preaches against gay marriage and T. W. Jenkins has chosen to stand by his principles. He informed Julion’s mother that it would be “blasphemous” to hold the funeral in his church. He has said he was not aware of the deceased man’s sexual orientation before members of his congregation called to complain.
Julion’s husband, Kendall Capers, speaks out against the callous timing of the cancellation.
“Regardless of our background, our sexual orientation, how can you wait that long and put someone in a bind when they’re going through a loss?”
Julion’s family is devastated. His mother was baptized at New Hope as a child and other members of his family attend weekly services there. Friends and family were expected to arrive from all over the country; some missed the Florida funeral home’s service because they were unaware of the change.
His mother, Julie, is heartbroken:
“I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
With several states working to overturn marriage equality bans, The Inquisitr recently covered Virginia’s decision to declare the ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Florida’s Attorney General has declared that she will let the Supreme Court decide whether the Sunshine State will overturn the ban on gay marriage.
Kendall Capers has expressed in an interview with WFLA.com, a Florida NBC-affiliated website, that how the church canceled the funeral was wrong. He wanted his husband’s funeral to be held in a Christian church, but he understands the congregation’s viewpoint. However, he feels that the abrupt cancellation, coming during the wake and at such short notice, was disrespectful.
[Photo Courtesy of Kendall Capers]