Church’s Ban on Interracial Couples Is “Null and Void”

Ticha Chikuni and Stella Harville will be able to worship at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky. Harville has attended the church since she was a child and her father, Dean Harville, has served as church secretary and clerk. But after Stella Harville brought Chikuni to the church last June and played the piano while he sang, church members voted 9-6 last week not to condone interracial marriage.

Now, a church conference has declared the church’s vote to be null and void.

The vote about interracial marriage had been called by former pastor Melvin Thompson. Stacy Stepp is now the pastor of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church and opposed the policy of banning interracial marriage and turned to the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists, which is comprised of more than a dozen member churches. After meeting on Saturday, the conference declared the policy “invalid.”

“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, told WYMT correspondent Jerrika Insco.

“I don’t believe it’s right. People should be able to worship. I don’t care what color their skin is,” one Bowling Fork churchgoer told WYMT.

Stella Harville and her family are reported to have “no hard feelings.” Dean Harville said that his daughter is “doing good on this” and that she is now “moving forward.” The Harvilles say they are indeed “ready for their church to get back to normal, allowing all people of all races to attend.”

It’s certainly good to know that the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists overturned the ban. The US Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional back in 1967 and, as of 2005,  7 percent of marriages in the US are interracial, according to Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld.

Wishing Ticha Chikuni and Stella Harville a good life together and thanks to the church conference for doing the right thing and overturning an outdated, unnecessary  policy.

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Photo by Boyznberry


James R.
James R.6 years ago

Wow this is a tough subject. They have a right to not "recognize" inter racial marriages based on their beliefs. Mormons didn't allow blacks to hold a position higher than Deacon because their bible says they hare the mark of "Caine" and that is their right to do so. Religions offer all sorts of this type of backwards thinking based on the interpretations of their scriptures. Religious groups don't have to recognize gay marriage either. It is their right. They will learn the folly of their ways when the 21st century catches up with them and there is nobody left in their pews to preach to.

Sorry to be a contrarian but, let them shoot themselves in the foot and let Darwin figure them out.

Christina G.
Christina G.6 years ago

I can't believe that these group of people would be so ignorant and blinded to condone an interracial marriage. Marriage is about who you love, it shouldn't matter if they look different or what gender they are. It seems to me these days that many of certain religions are so blinded, they really need to open there eyes to the real world and the real Truth.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.6 years ago

You don't let a book or God be your conscience.

You have no concept of surrender. Religion is about surrender not domination.
"I surrender all"

Well I am not there yet. I don't know how people tithe in this economy when greedy landlords take what they want and greedy employers give you what they want and somewhere in the middle you are supposed to make a living. That, and we all have some, even modest, pleasures.

Audrey Wildlife-Matters

I am not trying to defend Christopher, just expressing what I believed would be obvious by now, that is, the message of Christ, especially at Christmas time. It just seems that you are here for personal attacks. The "Golden Rule" is to forgive as you would wish to be forgiven, regardless of the book, the story, or the message writer. This would be a good time to put personal differences and dislikes aside. What do you think Shan?

Lori E.
Lori E6 years ago

Wow, I didn't even know the church condoned interracial marriages.

Shan D.
Shan D6 years ago

Audrey: The original message of Christ was simple, and something that should be understandable by everybody. But it's been perverted time and again over the centuries and millennia into something that is very dangerous if you happen to be one of the people who is not Christian, and the "proper" brand of Christian, to boot.

As for Christopher, he has a keyboard and fingers at his disposal; let him defend himself. I also happen to dislike men who hide behind a woman and let her argue for him.

As for doing the "Christian" thing - I was taught very early in life by my atheist grandfather that "The Golden Rule" was the only thing in the bible that made any sense, and if everybody lived by that, the world would be a much better place. Unfortunately, there are far too many so-called Christians who "do unto others BEFORE they do unto you."

I don't let some book or preacher be my conscience. My conscience is my own. If I forgive somebody, it's because I think that individual has earned it - not because a book (or in this case, a poster on an internet site) told me to.

Audrey Wildlife-Matters

Yet, there isn't anyone who can honestly claim to be

perfect. So, rather than pointing a blaming finger, would you be so kind as to forgive whatever dishonesty or bad things you

believe to be true about another person. It would be the Christian thing to do, after all.

Audrey Wildlife-Matters

Shan, I understand you were referring to me with the message saying "@Audrey: What has homosexuality to do with this article?" and then I responded to you: "I am only guessing that your comment "Judging from your hateful, bigoted posts on this site...." was in reference to homosexuality. Am I right? This is why I needed to express my personal view on it."

Bigotry = intolerance on the grounds of religion or politics. There is no such thing in Christopher's posts. He was trying to explain that according to Bible, homosexuality is wrong. In Christopher's posts, I notice quotations of Bible verses and valid reasons why these shouldn't be messed with because no human interference is going to change the everlasting Truth. After all, it is God's message to humanity about how we should live.

Within most human lives, some pieces of truth are temporary and short-lasting, some only half-truths or bent-truths, but the message of Christ is eternal and unchangeable, nor does it vary from season to season. It is for all times. Nor does it change to suit human opinions. Reading and quoting from these sacred texts should be encouraged for the purposes of supporting moral living, regardless of individual disappointments. Good things prevail if we can welcome the source of wisdom and knowledge from God within our lives. Trying to pervert God's message invites nothing good, only trouble. So who are we to blame another person unless we ourselves are meticulously perfect!! Yet, there isn't a

Shan D.
Shan D6 years ago

Audrey: first of all, I didn't respond to your question because I wasn't addressing you in the first place. I find Christopher's posts mostly bigoted and hateful. This is in reference to more than homosexuality - it's in reference to all the other times I've seen him express bigotry. I also deem him a hypocrite, based on the most recent exchange we've had. I don't like hypocrisy, or people who refuse to admit their own faults. It's dishonest. It's like lying. And Christopher is the one who brought up his fiancee. In my opinion, she should run the other way - no sensible woman I know would want to be married to such a narrow-minded man.

Audrey Wildlife-Matters

Shan, please correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be very concerned about personal matters of a relationship that has nothing to do with you, while the main topic of discussion is interracial couples. It would be great to keep everyone's personal matters just what they are supposed to be, PERSONAL. It is a matter between the couple and God, but it's possible that Christopher mentioned this as trying to give an example of an imperfect world we live in. Just guessing. You haven't answered my question Shan, but it seems like you're all set for personal attacks. My first impression was that you were referring to homosexuality when you said Christopher's posts were "hateful" and "bigoted". I couldn't agree with that. He merely expressed what the message of Holy Bible has been stating since the ancient times when it was written.