A church has been accused of homophobia after it refused to carry out a dedication service for the son of a gay woman.

When Hayley Vaughan joined Romford Baptist Church in January she said the community was very supportive and members “knitted jumpers" for her four-month-old son Jagger.

But when the 37-year-old asked the church to carry out a dedication ceremony for him, it refused due to his “home situation”.

Hayley, who moved to the town a few years ago, said: “I had been to one Sunday service with my son and at the second one I went to I asked a minister, who seemed very nice, if its going to be an issue for us to come to the church. And she said, 'no our church is very open, very inclusive'."

Romford Recorder: Romford Baptist Church on Main RoadRomford Baptist Church on Main Road (Image: Google Street)Hayley and Jagger began regularly attending Sunday services, but things took a sour turn after a new-joiners' meeting in mid-March.

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She claimed the leader of the ministers, the Rev Ian Bunce, told the meeting that if anyone wanted to make an event happen, it will “make it happen”.

She approached another minister, the Rev Jan Loveard, to ask for a dedication ceremony for Jagger, but claims that after inital excitement she was told she would need to check with the leadership.

When Hayley approached Rev Bunce week later to enquire about the ceremony, she was told the church could not carry it out because of her son’s home life.

Romford Recorder: Hayley claimed that most members of the congregation were aware that she was gay Hayley claimed that most members of the congregation were aware that she was gay (Image: Hayley Vaughan)Hayley added: “He went on to say they love me, and Jagger (her son) and they want me to continue coming to the church, but at this point I had gotten really upset. 

“He also said they don’t want me to have a target on my back and out myself to all of the congregation, but people there know I’m gay and I am quite open about it.

“It didn’t sit right with me. It almost sounded like double standards as he doesn’t want me to stop going to church but does not want to be seen performing the ceremony for LGBT+ woman."

When The Recorder contacted Romford Baptist church, Rev Bunce claimed they could not perform the dedication ceremony  “in clear conscience of their understanding of the scriptures”.

He said the church is “culturally diverse”, with over 40 nations within its congregation and “welcomes all people”.

But he added: “When it comes to religious ceremonies, like most churches from across the Christian denominations, we hold firmly to traditional teachings of the Bible.

“We are sad that on this occasion Hayley felt our response was homophobic, this is not our intention, and we have been delighted to welcome her and her son to our services."

He said the church had offered Hayley a meeting with one of its ministers, which was not taken up, but Hayley denied receiving any response.

Romford Recorder: St Andrews Church in Romford has now agreed to do the ceremony for Hayley, she saidSt Andrews Church in Romford has now agreed to do the ceremony for Hayley, she said (Image: Google Street)Hayley said she has now found another church - St Andrew’s in Romford - that she considers more inclusive as they will carry out the dedication ceremony.

“The Reverend in St Andrews said 'you’ll be celebrated here, not tolerated', and I thought that was lovely”, she added.