A small Baptist church in eastern Kentucky has voted to ban inter-racial couples from joining the congregation and from taking part in all church functions other than funerals.
Why just funerals? (Ed)
The vote to ostracise inter-race couples was held at the Gulnare Free Will Baptist church last Sunday. It has prompted a bitter dispute in the local Pike County and thrown up hatreds and antagonisms that had been hidden beneath the surface of the community for years.
The vote was held on a motion brought by the former pastor of the church, Melvin Thompson. He proposed people in inter-racial marriages should not be ”received as members nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions with the exception being funerals”.
His motion added that it was ”not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve”.
Mr Thompson’s move originated from a church service in June attended by Stella Harville, 24, and her black fiance, Ticha Chikuni, 29. Ms Harville, a pianist, accompanied Mr Chikuni as he sang a hymn.
On August 7 Mr Thompson, still pastor at that point, approached Ms Harville’s father, Dean, who is secretary and treasurer of the church. ”Thompson told me Stella and her boyfriend were not allowed to sing in the church any more,” Dean Harville said. Mr Chikuni is originally from Zimbabwe. He has lived in the US for 11 years.
When Mr Thompson’s motion was put to the vote nine members registered in favour of it and six against, with about 25 parishioners leaving the church before the ballot was called.
For the Love of God? I think not.