Church cancels funeral of gay man

TAMPA, Fla. – The night before his husband's funeral, Kendall Capers was told the service was cancelled.

The pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa learned the pair was gay and the congregation was livid.

"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?" Capers asked.

Julion Evans, 42, died late last month of Amyloidosis. Evans' family attends New Hope and wanted the funeral there.

"I felt it probably would have been best for him to be at the church, his family grew up in the church, it just made sense," Capers said.

New Hope immediately said yes, but the invitation was abruptly revoked during the wake after the newspaper obituary named Capers as the surviving "husband."

Julion's mother was too upset to talk on camera, but said she was standing at her son's casket when the phone rang. The message? It would be blasphemous for her son's funeral to be held here at the church.

New Hope's Pastor T.W. Jenkins said that his church doesn't support gay marriage.

"I try not to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God and have to stand upon my principles."

Initially, Jenkins agreed to an on-camera interview, but the door was locked when the reporter showed up and he never answered any calls.

All of this leaves Capers sad and conflicted about religion.

"It's not like we woke up and said, 'let's be gay,' someone we were born with and we've dealt with it for me, 40 years, him 42 years, and we make the best possible choices."

Pastor Jenkins said he regrets that his decision was made the night before the funeral.

He said he typically reviews obituaries before they publish, but was on vacation when this obituary ran in the newspaper.

As for the family, for the funeral, they ended up using the funeral home that handled the wake.

The family said it ended up being a great service, but they still feel it was wrong the church excluded them.


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