A priest in Mississippi refused to baptize a baby girl because her parents are not married, the infant’s mother says.
Kamri Mclendon, 18, and her boyfriend of two years, Tristan McPhail, wanted to baptize their daughter Presleigh at Hickory Grove United Methodist Church in the small town of Sumrall. the Biloxi Sun Herald mentionted.
After agreeing to perform the baptism, Ms Mclendon received a letter on September 15 from the church’s pastor, the Reverend Dewayne Warren, saying she could not go ahead because he had learned she and her partner were “living in sin”.
In the letter, which Ms McClendon shared on Facebook, Mr Warren wrote that her grandmother was “living in sin” with a man and that the couple had no “regular faithful attendance” at church.
Mr Warren said he would be setting a bad example for other young churchgoers if he were to perform the blessing.
“I say all this with Christian love. I know it’s harsh but it’s the truth. I was trying to wait for the Holy Spirit of God to convict you of this, but we ran out of time,” Mr. Warren wrote.
In her Facebook post, Ms Mclendon said the refusal showed why young people were “afraid to go to church”.
In an interview, Ms. McClendon said WLBT that she was “shocked” and hurt by the letter.
She told the news site her family had attended the Methodist church for generations and had been baptized there.
Since Presleigh was born in May, the couple have attended fewer services because of the demands of being new parents, she added.
The reverend had even announced the baptism to the entire congregation and sent material to the couple before he changed his mind.
He had shared the letter to draw attention to the hurt the church was causing, he said WLBT.
After the post was widely shared on Facebook, Ms Mclendon said WLBT that the church’s regional superintendent, the Rev. Larry Hilliard, had apologized for the way the situation was handled.
Ms Mclendon told the news site she was looking for an alternative church “that really welcomes us with open arms” to baptize Presleigh.
The independent has reached out to Ms Mclendon and Mr Warren for comment.