A pastor at Tampa’s New Hope Missionary Baptist Church became a hot contender for Worst Person Ever this week, calling a mother attending her deceased gay son’s funeral to let her know that the services were being abruptly canceled.
The church’s reason? The deceased, 42-year-old Julion Evans, was gay.
Evans’ mother Julie Atwood tells WFLA that a New Hope Missionary pastor informed her that the church preaches “against homosexuality” and that it would be “blasphemous” to continue her son’s funeral services. They planned to immediately remove his body from the church and provided no assistance in finding a new venue.
According to reports, the church learned Evans was gay after an obituary that named his surviving husband of 17 years ran in a local paper. “Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship,” Evans’ husband Kendall Capers told the news. “We didn’t keep secrets.”
T.W. Jenkins, a pastor at New Hope, says the “problem” was reported to him by members of the congregation who called to complain. He issued the following statement:
“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.”
According to Capers, the family was able to find a last-minute venue to host a new wake, but several family members who were not informed arrived for the wake at New Hope. They missed the funeral.
“This is 2014, this is not the 60s or the 70s,” Capers said. “So at the end of the day I just want his wrong-doing to be exposed.”