A church in Tampa, Fla. canceled a man’s funeral after learning that he was gay. The day before his funeral, the family of Julion Evans learned that the ceremony at the New Hope Baptist Missionary Church wasn’t happening.
The Tampa Bay Times reports:
Pastor T.W. Jenkins, who heads the Tampa church, canceled the Aug. 2 service after several members complained, according to Evans’ partner, Kendall Capers. They had seen his obituary in newspapers, which listed Capers as his husband.
Capers said the pastor told the family that to conduct a funeral for a gay man would be “blasphemous.”
“We can’t even have a dignified service like the next person could?” Capers said. “This is 2014, and we’re still going through this.”
Jenkins did not respond to several calls and visits from the Tampa Bay Times. No one answered the door at his Brandon home. A woman at the church business office said he was busy in meetings. Other church leaders listed in public records also declined to talk about the incident.
“Based on our preaching of the Scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” Jenkins said in an interview, according to WFLA-TV. “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 has been the head pastor of the Tampa church since 1995, according to the church website. In March, he delivered the opening invocation at Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s annual state of the city address.
The church is described on its website as a “Christ centered” and “biblically based” place of worship. It offers ministries “open to visitors searching for a spirit-filled place to call home.”
Jenkins expressed regret giving them such short notice. The family held the ceremony at the funeral home that hosted Evans’ wake.
Capers, was Evans’ partner for over 15 years.