Pastor defends decision to fire unwed mother

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — Apryl Kellam said on Monday, she received the phone call that she expected. 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.

CBS 6 first aired Kellam’s story on Friday.

“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.

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

Apryl Kellam (middle) and her fiancé , James Coalson.

Apryl Kellam (middle) and her fiancé , James Coalson.

“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.”

On 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,” says Booth. “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.

“People are calling us judgmental, but that’s judgmental, to say we’re being judgmental when they don’t know us,” Booth argued. “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.”

Pastor James Booth

Pastor James Booth

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.



  • Ginger Kidzius Naylor

    It’s about morals. Children learn from example. Living together with children of your own yet not being married shows you have no respect for Marriage. Marriage is a sacrament. And unless the husband or wife commit adultery with a baby produced from it, then there can be no viable reason for a divorce, for when you are wed its “for better or worse, richer or poorer, through sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live, till death do you part”. Marriage is a bond. Marriage is a contract. You have to work together to make a marriage work. And if your ex has not committed adultery with a child produced from it, then you are – still married to your ex ! And if your ex is dead, then there was no reason for divorce as you would have been a widow/widower.

    • Sandra

      Apparently you have not read the Bible very well. Perhaps you should read about the Samaritan woman, or the adulterous woman about to be stoned, oh there’s also the woman and her alabaster jar. What do all of these women, including Rahab, have in common? They were all living sinful lives but were all forgiven. “For ALL shaved sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I am certain you have too committed “adultery” because Jesus said even if you look at someone with lust, you have committed adultery in your heart. Do not judge others until you remove the plank from your eye.

      • Betsy Coulson

        What would Jesus do? He wouldn’t look down on her. He would forgive her, and love her as he does all his children. You have a very narrow view of the love he has for us. You are the type of person that keeps people away from church. Some lessons are forgiving should be a priority for you this year. I forgive you and the pastor for your lack of understanding and unforgiving ways. God bless……………..

      • Tara

        Actually, what they had in common was that they had repented and had stood before Jesus, the sinless one, who said go and sin no more. Sin is sin and Jesus came to offer forgiveness, but forgiveness was based on repentence. His first sermon was “Repent for the Kingdon of God is near”. Yes, there is clearly forgiveness for sinners, but there was action on their part -repentence.

    • me

      Oh please….preach it the choir lady…Im quite sure your marriage is the only perfect one along with your children. This is 2015 and people DONT have to get married just to have a family and be happy or go to HEAVEN…I am a Baptist and from what Ive seen they make up the rules as they go…Who is ANYONE to tell someone else they arent allowed in a church? Last I checked that is GOD’S house and everyone is welcome!!!!! No deacon or preacher or nosey people attending it have that right although it seems some think they do….no one is perfect, NOT even you lady so you need to come down off that high horse you’ve put yourself up on…and one more thing before you start talking about someone elses marriage vowels you might wanna check into yours…I can almost promise it’s not been perfect…everyone have those skeltons in their closet…People like you make me sick..Wanting to take a job from someone willing & wanting to work all because she’s pregnant…GROW UP!!!! You people will be the ones that have to answer to that and if I were you I’d start praying now!!!!

  • Becky Yost Liddick

    It is churches like this that make people distrust Christianity. I think it is so shameful. I remember attending a church when I was little where people were rude to my mom because she was divorced. This was 40 years ago! This church is still hiding in the dark ages. I am not a biblical scholar, but I do know there are stories in the bible that show Jesus accepted all people who would follow him and love God. I can’t think of anything the pastor could say that would make this ok.

  • Gene

    It’s a good thing Jesus mom didn’t go to work there; after all, He was conceived out of wedlock. This action by this “church” is nothing less than an Islamic stoning. I won’t judge the pastor but neither would I want to be him when Jesus asks “Why?”

  • Catherine

    Unwed mothers often work at low paying jobs.She has other children.If she receives some kind of government assistance this childs delivery and aftercare may be paid for by the taxpayers.Or if the man is working the total amount of assistance could be decreased.It would cost her money to have the “wedding ” of her dreams.I hope her and the father are the ones that are paying everything for this child.But I am very cynical. Everyone has a right to express their views on the employers decision.Also it is not right to judge people that do not marry. But,raising children is very expensive.Since she already has children it will be a long time most likely to afford a “dream” wedding.Since she has made her complaint public she should share with the same public her finical resources.Possibly the public would send her money for the “dream” wedding.We live in a country where people often donate money to strangers for very different causes.She also needs to let people know if she is receiving assistance from the government/ taxpayers.The church and her need to be transparent in all the reasons of her being fired and reasons not to marry before others not part of the decisions pick a side.

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