TAMPA, Fla. – A family in Florida says they are heartbroken after losing a loved one, and a funeral that was supposed to serve as closure just added salt to the wound.
“Our relationship wasn’t really a secret, everyone knew,” said Kendall Capers.
The night before his husband’s funeral, Kendall Capers was told the service was canceled.
The pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church learned the pair were 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?” he said.
Last month, 42-year-old Julion Evans died of amyloidosis.
Evans’ family attends New Hope and wanted the funeral held 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,” said Capers.
New Hope immediately said yes, but the invitation was abruptly revoked during the wake after the obituary named Capers as the surviving “husband.”
Julion’s mother says she was standing at her son’s casket when the phone rang.
She says the church told her it would be “blasphemous” for her son’s funeral to be held there.
New Hope’s pastor, T.W. Jenkins, told WFLA that is 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,” he said.
All of this leaves Capers sad and conflicted about religion.
“It’s not like we woke up and said, ‘Let’s be gay.’ Something we were born with and we’ve dealt with it, for me, 40 years, him, 42 years, and we make the best possible choices,” Capers said.
Pastor Jenkins said he regrets that this decision was made the night before the funeral.
He said he typically reviews obits before they publish, but was on vacation when this obituary ran in the newspaper.
As for the family, 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 that it was wrong that the church excluded them.