TITUSVILLE, Fla. (Christian Examiner) – In an apparent effort to keep order in the church, Vernor Clay, pastor of Antioch Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, and a civil rights activist, has defended members of his congregation from charges they behaved improperly towards a 15-year-old.
No arrests were made following the Dec. 27 incident according to Florida Today which reported the police were called just after 11 a.m. when a called told them "one juvenile was pushed."
The teen's guardian has said the young woman was kicked out of the building after a Sunday School disruption and that a deacon almost shut a door on her ankle when she was attempting to leave.
There is an ongoing police investigation, according to the Florida Today report.
The Titusville church shuttles several children and teens to services via a van service operated by church members. They attend Sunday School and participate in youth choir, according to the teens guardian Dolly Haire who said the teen's brother also participates in the services.
Clay, who also works as a substitute school teacher, said he told the police "there is order in the church."
'The church and the state are separate and no parent can rule God's house," he said.
The (Holy Bible) says that we are to train up a child in the way that they should go so that when they are older, they do not depart from it," Clay told the newspaper.
The teen, who apparently is in foster care, will no longer be allowed to attend services, her guardian told Florida Today.
"The girl didn't disrespect anyone," Haire said. Students said the teen was talking loudly and a deacon asked her to speak more softly.
The teen was in a fight during a Halloween party at the church, Clay said, adamant that the church follow principles of biblical order.
"We won't allow an unruly child to come in here to disrupt services. You don't bring society in to the church. The state has the Stand Your Ground law, we have the Word of God. We can restrain any disorderly person and as the pastor of this church, we will stand on the Word of God," he said.