Pine county church bans interracial couples banned from membership
Suzie Harville, who is engaged to a black man originally from Zimbabwe, is no longer welcome at the church. Neither is her fiancée, Tichna Chikuni. kentucky church interracial couples,
Some members of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church voted Sunday to prohibit interracial couples from joining their church. They're welcomed to attend, just not so welcomed to stick around for too long.
“It’s racism. That’s what you call it,” said Dean Harville, who is Suzie’s father. He has attended Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church for more than 30 years -- a place he has seen his family grow.
“I treat him like I’d treat my own son,” Dean Harville said of his future son-in-law. “You couldn't find a nicer man.”
The couple, who met in college, recently attended services at Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church – a small country church about 15 miles north of Pikeville, Ky. During their visit, Suzie sang a song, and Tichna played the piano.
“The pastor said they can't sing in the church anymore,” Dean Harville said. “Then he said, ‘Furthermore, take your fella back to wherever she got him from.’ “
Then, came a policy voted on and approved by a local majority banning interracial couples from joining the church. The loving decision 1967,
“It’s a travesty,” Suzie said. “The church crossed the line when they denied mine and my fiancée’s rights to worship in a public place."
The policy specifically mentions interracial couples. WSAZ.com’s Carrie Cline wondered, as an African American, would she be allowed to join the church.
“As of right now, no,” Dean Harville said.
It's a policy that's not sitting well with the majority of the community.
“They're really showing their ignorance,” Cliff Pelfry said.
Melvin Thompson, former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, spearheaded the ban.
Cline spoke with Randy Johnson, president of the Pike County Ministerial Alliance. While he said the church’s action is disturbing, he said the local religious community prays for peace and wants the rest of the world to know this is not how all Pike County churches think and act.
About 40 people attend services on a typical Sunday at Gulnare Freewill Baptist. This measure passed by a vote of nine to six. Dean Harville said more people were present, but they wouldn't take a stand.