At least a dozen mothers are planning a "nurse-in" at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina after a church member claimed that she was kicked out of a service for breastfeeding her baby.
Amanda Zilliken, a mother who attends services at an Elevation Church campus in Ballantyne, took to Facebook to complain about how she was told to go to the ladies room to breastfeed her child.
The mother of three recounted that she was breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter in a back row of the sanctuary during the sermon when a church volunteer escorted her into a bathroom.
"I just got kicked out of church for breastfeeding with a cover on and directed to the bathroom. Shame on you Elevation," Zilliken wrote in a Facebook post, which included a photo of the bathroom.
Zilliken, who drives about an hour from South Carolina every Sunday to attend the service at Elevation, claimed that she never had a problem breastfeeding her child there before.
Her Facebook post caught the attention of breastfeeding advocate Ariel Tauro, who organized a "nurse-in" at Elevation's Ballantyne campus on Aug. 20 to raise awareness.
"You can see here we have this nursing mother's room. We have a video set up. We have this. We have that. But that's it. That's where it stops," said Tauro, describing the facilities provided by Elevation Church.
Following the backlash, Elevation Church released a statement saying it does not have a policy that nursing mothers cannot be in the sanctuary.
"A volunteer had a conversation and felt both parties arrived at the same conclusion to exit mutually," the statement read, according to Charlotte Observer.
"We are sorry that this in any way offended anyone. We welcome everyone and anyone to attend Elevation church," it continued.
The church explained that it has several designated areas for nursing moms at the campus, including a private room to allow pumping and an "actual baby area with a TV to allow mothers to still be part of the worship experience."
North Carolina law states that a woman may breastfeed in "any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be."
A GoFundMe campaign was reportedly launched to help Zilliken pay for an attorney so that she could sue the church.
The South Carolina mother has been criticized by some Elevation church members online, with a few saying she was blaming the church for the actions of a single volunteer.
Zilliken maintains that her goal in raising awareness about this issue is not to "bash" the church she attends every Sunday. "I do, however, think that everything was handled wrong," she said.
Elevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S., is led by Pastor Steven Furtick who speaks most Sundays in person at the Ballantyne campus. The Southern Baptist church now draws more than 20,000 worshippers to its nine Charlotte-area sites every weekend.