GLEN ALLEN, Va., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The pastor of a Virginia church where a pregnant mother was fired for not marrying her fiancé said critics "don't know our heart."
Apryl Kellam, who has worked at the Staples Mill Road Baptist Church's daycare in Glen Allen since September, said she received a phone call Monday confirming she was being fired for violating church policy.
Kellam, who is pregnant and has children from a previous marriage, said church officials had been warning her since October to marry her live-in fiancé, James Coalson, or announce a wedding date by this week.
The couple said they did not want to rush the wedding because they wanted to wait until the time was right for their family.
"I want to wait so we can have all our family and friends there and have a big wedding," Kellam told WTVR-TV. "I just don't want to go to the courthouse and have someone marry us."
"It hurts because I've grown up in a Christian home and Christian church my whole life," she said.
Pastor James Booth said he had to limit his comments due to confidentiality laws regarding personnel matters.
"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, he said all church workers are required to sign an employee handbook that details the moral code of conduct required by the facility.
"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."
Kellam, who said she received a glowing employee review two weeks ago, said she never saw the employee handbook and church officials were aware of her living situation when she was hired.
The couple said they are considering legal action against the church.