Kentucky Church Ban on Interracial Couples Negated
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A church in Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples from membership, but that vote has been ruled null and void by a church conference. The church in question, Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church of Pike County, had originally voted to ban interracial couples from its building. The reason for the ban was that a woman named Stella Harville came to the church’s services with her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni, who hails from Zimbabwe. The couple met while studying at Georgetown College.

The vote took place last week, with one-third of the members of the church voting by a count fo 9-6 to ban interracial couples from gaining membership.


CBS Affiliate WYMT obtained a copy of the resolution, which states the following:

“The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church does not condone interracial marriage. Parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals. All are welcome to our public worship services. This recommendation is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve.”

Harville, speaking to WYMT reporter Angela Sparkman, said the following about the church and the vote, according to CBS News:

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“It’s just a travesty, especially of Christianity, that this church feels this way. They’ve crossed the line in revoking my fiance and mine’s right to worship in a public place. It hurts even more that I have attended this church ever since I was a baby.”

Chikuni, originally from Zimbabwe, has lived in the country for the past 11 years.

“He just has one of the kindest hearts for God, and then this is happening,” said Harville. “People who have backwards way of thinking, they should know that their racism actions should not and will not be tolerated.”

The pastor of the church, Stacy Stepp, opposed the ban and asked for the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists to intervene in the ban. The conference is made up of more than a dozen member churches.

WYMT reports that the ban was declared invalid by the Conference after it met on Saturday.

“No motion is in order that conflicts with the laws of the nation or state or with the assembly’s constitution of by-laws. And if such motion is adopted, even by a unanimous vote, it is null and void,” said Jim Patton, the pastor at Pikeville Freewill Baptist Church and a member of the Sandy Valley Conference.

“We believe that everyone is welcome in the house of God, and we are not a racist group of people,” said Bobby Mullins, pastor at Martin County Free Will Baptist Church said.

Harville’s family said that she is doing well and that they have no resentment towards the church.

“My daughter is doing good on this,” said Dean Harville, the father of Stella Harville, who is also a member of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church.


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