TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida woman says her Tampa church cancelled her son’s funeral after the pastor learned the deceased was gay and his obituary listed a surviving “husband.”
Julie Atwood says she was told by New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., that it would be “blasphemous” to hold the services at the church because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay, reports WFLA-TV.
Article continues belowAtwood says the church abruptly cancelled the funeral just one day prior to the services. She says she received a phone call notifying her of the cancellation while standing beside her son’s casket during the wake.
Evans’ husband, Kendall Capers, says the couple were partners for 17 years and married last year in Maryland. Evans died at home after a 4-year battle with a rare illness called Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body.
He says the obituary named him as “husband,” and that their marriage was no secret.
T.W. Jenkins, pastor at New Hope says was not aware of that Evans had a husband or was gay until members of his congregation saw the obituary and called to complain. They did not think it was right to have the funeral at their church, he said.
Atwood calls the church’s actions “devastating.”
“I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death,” she says.
More from WFLA-TV: