Target: Pastor T.W. Jenkins of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church
Goal: Reprimand Pastor Jenkins for cancellation of gay man’s funeral
A gay Tampa, Florida man was denied the opportunity to be laid to rest, all because of his sexual orientation. Julion Evans’ funeral was scheduled to take place at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church when, its pastor, T.W. Jenkins, said that a service for the deceased man would be blasphemous. He then went on to cancel the man’s funeral, leaving his mother and husband dumbfounded and heartbroken.
In an interview with a Tampa TV station, WFLA, Julion Evans’ mother, Julie Atwood, stated that the news was “…devastating…I [feel] like he was denied the dignity of death…” The uproar over Evans’ funeral began after members of the church saw Kendall Capers, Evans’ husband and partner for over 17 years, listed as his surviving spouse in the obituary. Capers and Evans got married in Maryland and were only wedded for one year before Evans was diagnosed with a rare illness called amyloidosis, which slowly destroys the body’s organs.
Although Evans and Capers did not attend the church, Evans’ family members have been members for decades. The family requested that the funeral be held there, as it was the only church with a space large enough to accommodate the hundreds of mourners expected to attend. When met with animosity by church goers and members, Pastor Jenkins issued a statement saying that it would have been “…in error to allow the service in [his] church…” He then added, “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but…I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”
Evans’ funeral has since been rescheduled to take place at another church, but the thought of her only son’s death met with such hatred and homophobia is something that still haunts Julie Atwood to this day. Sign this petition to chastise Pastor T.W. Jenkins for his heartlessness.
Dear Pastor T. W. Jenkins,
It has come to my attention that you are responsible for the cancelation of a man’s funeral, all because of his sexual orientation. This act is not only heartless, but utterly deplorable as you rob his family, friends, and husband of the opportunity to lay him to rest respectfully and peacefully. There is already enough animosity, injustice and hatred surrounding the LGBT community in life, that your decision is proof that even in death, gay people will still be seen as unequal.
I hope that you realize the error in your ways and understand that by denying Julion Evans the opportunity to have his funeral service at your church is, indeed, condemning his lifestyle. It is also condemning the lifestyle of his partner of 17 years, condemning his innocent, grieving mother’s decision to have the service at your church, and condemning his friends and family member’s decision to accept, love and celebrate his life. Gay or not, no man deserves to be met with such hostility on his deathbed.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Church of the Pilgrims via Wikimedia