Stella Harville and her fiancée, Ticha Chikuni. (Photo: AP/Stella Harville)
The small, all-white Kentucky church that decided to ban interracial couples from joining the church membership or participating in certain activities just one week ago has since rescinded the decision, calling it “null and void.”
Just one Sunday ago, after a majority of voting church members at the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky, decided to ban interracial couples, news of the decision spread across the country and incited the ire of many individuals and organizations alike.
"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 initial decision, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Now, one week later, Stacy Stepp, pastor of the church, told the Associated Press that the decision is null and void. According to a decree that came down Saturday from the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists, a coalition of area churches of which Gulnare is a member, bylaws of the church can not run contrary to local, state or national laws.
The issue of whether to allow interracial couples in the church was raised after Stella Harville, daughter of a church member, showed up one Sunday in June with her Black fiancée, Ticha Chikuni, to sing a duet in front of the congregation. Following the incident, a small majority of church members moved to ban interracial couples from church membership and certain activities, and also issued a statement saying that the church does not condone interracial marriage.
According to Stepp, this Sunday, members sung a very different tune than they had the past week. A unanimous vote of the nearly 30 people who attended church services Sunday voted to welcome "believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color."
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