Stella Harville, a 24-year-old graduate student, recently became engaged to Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe who is a student life administrator at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. But parishioners at Harville’s home town church in Gulnare, Kentucky, voted to bar interracial couples from becoming members of the church or participating in services. The vote taken after Sunday services on November 27 was 9-6. There are about 40 members of the congregation. The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church is affiliated with the National Association of Free Will Baptists based in Antioch, Tennessee.
The resolution passed by the members stated that it does not condone interracial marriage and “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.” The resolution also stated, “All our welcome to our public worship services.”
After a firestorm in local and national media outlets, the pastor of the church declared the resolution “null and void,” stating that it was discriminatory and therefore ran counter to local, state, and national laws. This past Sunday the church congregation passed another resolution welcoming all who wanted to worship.