Although the funeral for a gay man was denied by a church in Tampa, Florida, Julion Evans may be able to finally rest in peace with dignity — if one fast-growing Christian activist group has anything to do with it.
Tuesday, Faithful America, a relatively new Christian organization, petitioned Rev. T.W. Jenkins, the pastor of New Home Missionary Baptist Church, over his decision in canceling funeral and burial services for an openly gay man who passed away last month, citing a report out Wednesday by Daily Kos.
For his actions in refusing to honor a request to eulogize and hold a funeral at his church, the faith-based group is insisting that Pastor Jenkins apologize over his overt sexual orientation discrimination. Moreover, the petition attempts to send a message that his decision is in no way a reflection of how all Christians feel about gays, lesbians, and same sex marriage.
The backstory is quite riveting. New Hope’s decision set off a firestorm in the South Florida, and quickly spread globally as many received news of the controversial decision in refusing to hold the funeral at the church because the deceased was a gay man. Despite the public’s outcry over Jenkins’ decision, the pastor held his ground and is standing by his decision. Why? Based on the church’s doctrines, the reverend says its blasphemy to hold services for a homosexual in the House of the Lord.
“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church. 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.”
Evans, 42, at the time of his death passed away after a four-year struggle with Amyloidosis, a rare condition that basically destroys the organs of the body. Those who knew him say he was gracious and humble until the end.
Kendall Capers, Julion’s partner of 17 years, says he was shocked when they received the news that the funeral for his spouse was denied for one simple reason: Evans was gay.
Capers, who says he respects the organization’s right to refuse services, said he can’t wrap his head around the manner in which the message was delivered.
Apparently the decision to cancel the gay man’s funeral was made the night before. However, the first person to learn of the last-minute cancellation was Evans’ mother. Julie Atwood was standing at her son’s coffin only hours before the services began when her cell phone rang. It was New Hope’s pastor, who explained he was not aware of her son’s sexuality and could not honor her request to hold the memorial at his sanctuary.
A congregation member reportedly complained when they saw that Capers was listed as Julion Evans’ “husband” in the obituary. After a meeting, the decision was made by the congregation to deny the home-going services, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
Faithful America, which has the slogan “Love Thy Neighbor, No Exceptions” on its website, posted a petition over the ongoing controversy.
“Julie Atwood was at her son’s wake, standing next to his casket, when she got the news: The church was canceling the funeral because her son was gay.
“Rev. T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, told Julie that he’d read in the newspaper obituary that her son was married to another man and decided that holding the funeral would be ‘blasphemous.’
“This story is generating national headlines, but so far Jenkins is only doubling down, saying his church plans to ‘continue to stand on the word of God.’
“We need to show Pastor Jenkins — and the media who are covering the story — how many Christians are appalled by how he’s misrepresenting our faith and hurting Julion Evans’s grieving family.”
The group goes on to say that the decision to cancel a funeral for a gay man is “not Christian” at all and a full apology is the right thing to do.
With a petition goal of 15,000, it’s unknown how many signatures have been obtained. Moreover, it’s not clear if the embattled church leader intends to relent and offer an apology to Julion’s loved ones.
[Image via NY Daily News]