Church pastor defends decision to fire unwed mother

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — A church pastor is defending his decision to fire an unwed mother.

Apryl Kellam said she received the phone call that she expected Monday.

The caller told her that she was being fired from the church daycare, where she had worked since September, because she was in violation of church policy. 

“It hurts because I’ve grown up in a Christian home and Christian church my whole life,” Kellam said.

Kellam said her supervisor at Staples Mill Road Baptist Church had warned her since October that she needed to marry her fiancé , James Coalson — or at least announce a wedding date by this week.

The couple is expecting a baby in April has has children from previous marriages.

 Apryl Kellam and family - WTVR

Apryl Kellam and family - WTVR

The parents said they were floored by the request because they intended to marry when the time was right for the family.

“I want to wait so we can have all our family and friends there and have a big wedding,” Kellam explained. “I just don’t want to go to the courthouse and have someone marry us.”

Monday, the church defended its decision, saying it was difficult not being able to tell the church’s side of the story.

Pastor James Booth said that he was bound by confidentiality laws because this is a personnel matter.

However, Booth said the church’s policy does not discriminate against single women or unwed mothers.

“We have a number of single women who are employed here and serve well,” Booth said. “We have a number of single moms who serve well.”

However, Booth said all employees are required to sign an employee handbook at the time of employment — a moral code of conduct — that clearly states expectations for employees. Pastor fires unwed mother WTVR

“People are calling us judgmental, but that’s judgmental, to say we’re being judgmental when they don’t know us,” Booth said. “They don’t know our heart.  We’re not trying to be hurtful, we’re just following our personnel handbook which is rooted in our statement of faith and our biblical beliefs.”

Booth said that the church has not faced a similar dilemma and he believed the church’s policy was within their legal rights.

Kellam argued she never received or signed the employee handbook and was unaware of the church’s policy until after she was hired.

She also claimed she was upfront with the church about her living situation at the time of her employment.

“She shouldn’t have been hired,” Coalson said. The couple said they would consider taking legal action.

While Kellam and Coalson said they understand the church’s policy regarding morals, they added they’re having a hard time understanding the reasoning behind Kellam’s termination.

Kellam said she received a glowing job review on Thursday and was even given a raise.

“The only one who can judge me is God himself,” Kellam said.

Source: WTVR by Tracy Sears

46 comments

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Expecting Christians to live the law of chastity is wrong? Perhaps this church wants daycare leaders who can set an example the children can follow.

  • TLW

    They are living in sin, out of wedlock. If she can’t uphold the standards the church who employs her holds to, then they have a right to terminate her employment. It also seems like they have given her a chance to make it right…but they obviously refused.

  • Ellen

    As a Christian it is your duty to set the example, not to judge. Judgement is left to God, and accountability belongs to the sinner. We are all sinners, no one is perfect….your only concern should be is how your example will be perceived by The Lord on your judgement day!

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Christians are expect to judge behavior Ellen … not the individual. Based on your logic it would be perfectly acceptable to have a convicted child molester watching these children.

    • Steve

      And if the church teaches that it’s sinful for an unwed man and woman to be living together like a husband and wife, yet they’ve hired that same woman to watch kids in their church daycare… how is that example going to be perceived? How about by the parents who’ve put kids in the church daycare so they can be taught the church’s morals?

      • William

        If you want a child to be taught church morals, take them to church. Or teach them yourself. A daycare is a place for children to be taken care of while the parents are otherwise engaged, such as at work. It’s a mass babysitting service. Most of the kids she watches probably don’t know and likely wouldn’t understand how she lives. It’s none of their business. As long as she provides proper care to these children and doesn’t directly and purposefully teach them things that the parents would disapprove of, what’s the problem? Besides, they were trying to make the couple marry on the daycare’s terms. If you marry because someone else told you to, or when someone else tells you to, and not when the ONLY TWO INVOLVED decide to, you’re letting people dictate your life. People who have no business in your life.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        WILLIAM – You realize of course that this is a church daycare. Don’t like how they operate take your child somewhere else. Their daycare – their rules.

      • Steve

        A church daycare IS church, hence the “church” part of it. You don’t get to put church into a Sunday-sized box and forbid it from leaving.

    • Steve

      P.S. Read 1 Corinthians 5 and then try to tell me it’s not a Christian’s duty to judge those inside the church, who call themselves believers but whose lifestyles exhibit willful, unrepentant violation of the word of God.

      Yes, there is forgiveness – read the first half of 2 Corinthians 2 for “the rest of the story” – but first there must be genuine repentance.

      • amy

        Steve, you should look at the labor and anti discrimination laws. It is not the church’s place as an employer to force someone to abide by their religious beliefs, in fact it is illegal. If a church wants to operate that way they should pick a country that doesn’t have such laws to operate in.

      • Jane

        Cohabitation is not covered, however an employer is not allowed to discriminate based upon marital status. That being said, churches have exemption from this rule because of religious beliefs and unfortunately regardless if she signed something or not they can still claim she knew and get away with it and it sounds as if she was made aware she could potentially loose her job (http://www.civilrights.org/lgbt/enda/religious-exemption.html).

  • bob

    Religious bigotry knows no bounds… Imagine how much better the world would be without judgmental religious people, without murderous religious people, and without hateful religious people… Religion breeds nothing but hate towards others…

  • Amber

    Are you kidding me….they hired her knowing she wasn’t married and the couple even said they wanted to get married when they have family there, etc. They are being very judgmental…

  • Heather

    When the Church considers why so many are turning away from it, perhaps they should consider things like this. While they may have the right to do such things, I have the right to stand up and say “You are idiots, and this speaks highly of your ability to assimilate your beliefs into your community in a way that is remotely valuable”. Way to win friends and influence people guys.

    • amy

      Heather, they actually do not have the right, this falls under employment discrimination based on familial status, not freedom of their religion. If they want to be such jerks they can always run their day care on a volunteer basis, and refuse volunteers as they see fit.

  • Steve

    I really don’t get the outrage. She claims she never signed or read the handbook. Yeah, right. They all say that. Yet she was hired in September, admits she was told way back in October that if she was living with her fiancé she needed to either marry him or she’d be fired, so this ultimatum over her live-in boyfriend situation clearly isn’t coming as any surprise to her.

    She’s not being fired because she’s an unwed mother or got pregnant. She’s being fired because she’s living with a man who is not her husband, and because although she was given plenty of time to correct that situation, she chose instead to thumb her nose at their policy.

    As I see it she had 3 clear-cut options: 1) quit the job and tell the church where to go; 2) PICK A DATE; it’s totally understandable that she wants to wait until family will be able to come, but get in touch with everyone, find out when they can come, and PICK A DATE; or 3) the option nobody else seems to consider, she could’ve moved out and quit living with her fiancé until they get married.

    The church was actually really lenient; they could have told her move out or get married first, before they even would’ve considered hiring her. And if she sues the church over this, they’ll be much less likely to give the next person that same leniency.

    • William

      Option 3 would be allowing people to dictate your life who have no business there whatsoever. And employer should only be concerned with an employee’s ability to do their job as intended and described. Their home life doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter in the slightest. They’re not violating any laws, and certainly not any that would result in a punishment that affects their jobs. Unless the couple’s living arrangements and marital status impacts her ability to do her job to their standards, they have no business issuing an ultimatum about it. Their life is nobody’s business but theirs and those they choose to share it with. Their employers MIGHT need to know, but the children she cares for and the parents of said children have no need and no right to know, because it DOES NOT affect the care their children receives.

      • Steve

        She IS unable to do that job as intended and described.

        It’s a church daycare. Parents send their kids there expecting them to be taught the church’s morals. That’s part of the job.

  • amy

    judgemental? tyr in violation of discrimination laws and labor laws, not to mention guilty of harassment if this woman was really told several times that she HAD to announce a wedding date to satisfy her employer.

  • Erin Colleen

    “The couple is expecting a baby in April has has children from previous marriages.”
    The writer needs to learn how to write and the editor needs to learn how to edit.

  • Jessica

    Wow, so many of you on here sound so amazingly IGNORANT!! What the church did was wrong, it is not ok for them to fire her because she hasn’t wed yet. Marrying someone isn’t something that should be done because it’s requirement of the bible. I’m very much a Christian and grew up in a Christian home. My uncle was a pastor and the moment that I saw this story I was on the phone with him. I wanted an explanation and he couldn’t give me one, he’s been leading the church for well over 35 years and he says that what was done is WRONG! You cannot pass judgment on someone who lives a different lifestyle than what you “believe” to be right, you can only guide and teach them how to. What THEY do is up to THEM! I hope that she sues the church and wins, her decision to wed or not had NO bearings on her ability to care for those children. That’s like telling the parents that bring their children to only bring them if they’re married but if they’re living with someone unwed they need to find a new daycare. It’s absolutely ludicrous on so many levels but all of you ignoramus idiots out there will see it YOUR way because it’s what YOU believe to be right! I’ve seen so many “Christians” live a life of pure sin but sit in the pews at church every Sunday praising God. There is a serious disconnect in this world that we live in. I don’t believe in the institution of church anymore, there are more hypocrites there than you would find in night clubs. No wonder so many people have such a bad perception of us, they don’t want to be a part of a faith that screams out how unwelcoming we truly are. Change how you think and please learn to be a little more open minded. The bible teaches LOVE and FAITH….

    • Steve

      She isn’t being fired “because she hasn’t wed yet”, she’s being fired because she’s shacked up with the guy. In a position where she’s supposed to be a moral example and teaching those kids, they don’t want someone who’s living in flagrant disregard to what they claim to be teaching.

      • Jessica

        Ladies and gentlemen, here we have yet another ignorant bigot. SO WHAT IF SHE’S SHACKED UP, why is it her responsibility to show those kids the difference between right and wrong!!! That’s the parents job, she is only there to CARE for them… I didn’t know that by taking the job, she would be obliged to teach those kids the ways of the world. Come on now, have more common sense than that! You are absolutely ridiculous… Those of you that are condemning her for what she is doing, I hope that you are perfect people!!!!!!!!!

      • Martin Snapp

        If you so-called Christians would stop worshiping your real god, Mammon, and start following the precepts of Jesus, the world would be a lot better off.

  • Son of a Preacher Man

    Should of bussed it was FOX news. Read the book Wiser by Sunstein and Hastie. Maybe even read the Bible again.

  • nancy

    That what happens when the head of the church gets the idea hes got and has the right to pass judgement on people. That is gods job not a preacher or minster, his only job is to get out gods word not to do gods job of passing judgement on people. Ministers get the idea they are god and act that way that is the reason so many people have drifted away from the church and are left to try to fend for themselves in religious matters. Sounds like a bad case of male ego gone amok. Shame on the minister.

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