DETROIT — A famed Detroit pastor and Gospel singer has been receiving criticism in recent weeks over his alleged policy to not bless babies born out of wedlock in front of his congregation.
Pastor Marvin Winans of the acclaimed Winans family leads Perfecting Church in the city, which is attended by approximately 4,500 members. Winans, a multi-award winning Gospel singer, also serves a bishop over Perfecting Fellowship International, which has sister congregations in New York, Texas, Florida and Alabama, as well as in London and South Africa.
This month, Winans’ church had scheduled a baby dedication for children two and under. However, when one mother who recently began attending the church was told that her child couldn’t be blessed before the congregation, she took to her local FOX affiliate to express her disapproval.
Charity Grace, 39, is the mother of a two-year-old boy and is unwed. She states that she contacted Perfecting Church to obtain additional information about the baby dedication ceremony as she wanted to give her child to God.
“I want to instill values and morals in my son based upon the word of God,” she told television station WJBK.
But when Grace mentioned to the woman that answered the phone that she is a single mother, she states that she was informed that Winans does not bless children born out of wedlock openly before the congregation.
“Her exact words were, ‘Pastor Winans’ rules, policy and standards that he has is not to bless children in front of his congregation [that were conceived by] unwed mothers,'” she explained.
However, Grace was informed that the church could still make other arrangements for her privately.
“What they could do for me is let my son get dedicated during a weekday with one of the elders of my choice,” she stated.
Grace now remarks that the incident made her feel “degraded,” and as a result, she does not plan to return to Winans’ church.
“I absolutely would not set foot back in the church right now because I feel like they look down upon me and ‘my kind,’ meaning single moms and unwed mothers,” she outlined. “The church should be the last place you should go to be judged and denied.”
Reaction to the report has been mixed. Commentator James Causey wrote in a recent article that while “some pastors would argue that changes in society’s morals do not mean the church should comply,” he believes Christians need to keep up with the times. He pointed to statistics that state that 44 percent of single mothers have never been married.
“The church makeup is different today, because society is different,” Causey wrote. “[I]f the church doesn’t become more accepting, it becomes irrelevant to those who probably need it the most.”
But others agree with Winans and opine that it is best not to suggest that the church condones fornication.
“No one said this child could not be dedicated,” wrote La’Jimmease Jones, a member of Winans’ church. “Her point was to do this in front of the congregation as to say to my babies and other young adults, ‘It’s okay to have sex without being married and get pregnant; look, the man of God ordains it! ”
“We have to respect the word of God and must have standards and believe in what we preach,” she continued. “No one turned the mother down or [her] child. I thought that the main thing was that this child be dedicated to God! Did not know you needed a congregation to do it!”
Winans has declined to comment on the matter. It is not known whether Grace has expressed regret for having sex outside of marriage.