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Pastor Refuses To Baptize, Dedicate Baby on Grounds Couple Is ‘Living Together in Sin’

baby dedication
L: Screenshot from Facebook / @Kamri Mclendon. R: Stock photo from Adobe Stock

A couple in Sumrall, Mississippi, is looking for another church after their pastor refused to baptize their baby on the grounds that the couple is “living together in sin.” Kamri McLendon, the baby’s mother, says the pastor knew of the couple’s living situation when he agreed to the request and that what she and her boyfriend wanted was a baby dedication.

Instances like this are why young people are scared to go to church,” said McLendon in a Facebook post with a photo of the pastor’s refusal letter. “I will be the first to admit that yes I have sinned and have done wrong in my life. But how did me trying to dedicate my daughter to Jesus turn into us being shamed for being young parents and unmarried?” 

Baby Dedication Refused by Pastor

According to WLBT, McLendon, 18, grew up in Hickory Grove United Methodist Church in Sumrall and says her family attended the church for “generations.” WLBT reports that she wanted her daughter baptized in the church where she was baptized. In her Facebook post, however, McLendon said that she and her boyfriend, Tristan McPhail, wanted a baby dedication. ChurchLeaders has reached out to McLendon for comment and clarification. 

We asked for a baby dedication for Presleigh,” said McLendon, “and after being told yes, being sent the materials, as well as it being announced at this church, we received this letter.”

The letter, from Rev. DeWayne Warren, is dated Sept. 15, 2022, and says that the pastor is unable to perform a “baby dedication” on Sept. 25, 2022. It continues in part:

I am informed that you and the baby’s father are living together in sin; the baby was conceived before the parents were married. The grandmother is living with a man in sin. You and the father have not been in regular, faithful attendance at our church. 

The ceremony that you want performed is a Christian ceremony. It is a covenant between the parents and God. You promise to raise your child in the Christian faith with all that entails. That means that you attend church on a regular basis with your child. It means that your life shows that you are living the Christian faith. I do not see that in your life at this time…Also in the United Methodist Church we don’t do “baby dedications.” We do infant baptisms.

Warren says that he believes performing the baptism would set a bad example for the young people of the church and also says McLendon should not have given him the date for the ceremony since it is the pastor’s job to set the date. The letter concludes, “I say all of this in Christian love. I know that it is harsh, but it is the truth. I was trying to wait for the Holy Spirit of God to convict you on this, but we were running out of time. I cannot in all good conscience perform this ceremony at this time.”