Kentucky Church Bars Interracial Couples

Couples can't join or take part in worship activities

A Kentucky church has barred interracial couples after a white member's daughter brought her black fiance to perform a song and worship.

The Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, in Pike County, polled its members and they voted not to allow such couples to join or take part in certain worship activities, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Dean Harville, a longtime member who serves as church secretary and clerk, said his daughter Stella Harville and her fiance Ticha Chikuni went to church in June. She played the piano as he sang a song called "I Surrender." Stella Harville is 24, and Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, is 29.

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Harville said Melvin Thompson, who had been pastor for many years, told him in August that the pair couldn't sing at the church again.

In November, Thompson proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend services, the church did not condone interracial marriage. A vote at the church affirmed his stance by a 9-6 vote. Most in the congregation did not vote.

Thompson has resigned due to health issues, but is standing firm, Harville said. The new pastor, Stacy Stepp, said the couple could sing at the church.

Still, not everyone in the religious community agrees with the church's stance. 

"It's not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form," Randy Johnson, president of the Pike County Ministerial Association, said of the vote.

Stella Harville said she won't be going back to the church, anyway.

"They're the people who are supposed to comfort me in times like these," she said.

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