Julion Evans died at only 42 years of age. Not much later his family suffered another heavy blow: his funeral was canceled the night before it was scheduled to happen. The reason? The pastor had discovered that the deceased was gay and his obituary listed a surviving "husband," according to an Aug. 8 Tampa Tribune report.
The man died and relatives turned to the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa to take care of the funeral. Everything was planned and decided, but the church's sudden decision to cancel the function the day before shocked family members.
"It was devastating," Evans' mother, Julie Atwood, said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."
Pastor T.W. Jenkins informed Evans' family members that the church doesn't support gay marriage.
"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 with 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," he said.
Evans' partner, Kendall Capers, was appalled that the church abruptly canceled the funeral. He told reporters..."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."
The story unleashed a storm of indignation and protest on social networking sites. Fortunately, with an immediate search, the family was able to find a church willing to offer the service.