Reverend refuses to baptize infant, says unwed teenage parents are 'living in sin'

Reverend refuses to baptize infant, says unwed teenage parents are ‘living in sin’

A young couple from Mississippi recently asked their church for a baby dedication for their newborn, but they were turned away after the reverend learned more about their family.

Kamri Mclendon, 18, and her boyfriend of two years, Tristan Mcphail, welcomed a baby girl named Presleigh in May. The couple said while her birth was not planned she has become the “greatest blessing.”

They wanted to have a baby dedication for Presleigh at the same church Kamri and “generations” of her family attended. But their plans came to a screeching halt after the reverend Dewayne Warren discovered Kamri and Tristan weren’t married.

After their child’s birth the couple had been attending Hickory Grove United Methodist Church in Sumrall, Mississippi sporadically. Even though they didn’t attend as much as they would have liked – they were caring for a newborn – Kamri and Tristan were in contact with the reverend about their wishes.

Initially he agreed to the ceremony, but then the couple received a letter that stated otherwise.

“He knew all of the information of us not being married, all of that,” Kamri WLBT. “And he agreed to it. He was like, Yeah, that works. His wife sent us the material of what would need to be said at the service. He even announced it to the congregation. My grandmother and my aunt and uncle were all there. And then he sent us that letter.”

The 18-year-old shared the letter on Facebook.

In the letter, Warren wrote he would not perform the ceremony because Kamri and Tristan were living together “in sin.”

“The grandmother was living with a man in sin,” and the couple had not been in “regular, faithful attendance.”

He continued saying, “I feel that if I were to perform this ceremony in our church it would set a bad example for our Youth and children. It would be saying to them that the lifestyle that you are living is ok for a Christian. That is not so.”

Kamri said had they learned Warren wasn’t comfortable performing the ceremony, they would have been okay with the decision, but to be told yes only then to receive a letter stating otherwise, the couple was “shocked.”

“This wouldn’t have been a big deal if [Warren] had told us from the get-go [that] he wasn’t comfortable with it. Because we completely understand. Like, we know what the Bible says. We did, in fact, sin. But he knew all of that and he still agreed to it. If he had been straightforward from the get-go, this wouldn’t have been a problem with either of us.”

After Kamri shared the letter on Facebook, Rev. Larry Hilliard, the District Superintendent of the Seashore District, reached out to both parties.

Conversations between Hilliard and Warren and Hilliard and Kamri reportedly both went well. Warren expressed a desire to apologize, “but wasn’t comfortable reaching out.”

Warren and the couple have yet to speak.

Kamri and Tristan are now looking for a new church that will welcome their family “with open arms.”

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