Interracial Ban Declared 'Null" and "Void" by Regional Church Association

Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Interracial Ban Declared 'Null" and "Void"  by Regional Church Association

PIKEVILLE, KY (HNN) – The controversial ban of interracial couples by a Kentucky church has been declared null and void. A press release by the National Association of Free Will Baptists Thursday, Dec. 1, indicated reconsideration would occur. Although the National Association then declined to interfere in the local church’s affairs, the Association’s press release clearly supported interracial couples.

“Many interracial couples are members of Free Will Baptist churches. They are loved, accepted and respected by their congregations. It is unfair and inaccurate to characterize the denomination as racist,” the release said.

Although the Free Will Baptist Treatise “neither condemns nor disallows marriage between a man and a woman of different races,” the Association has no policy in place since “it has not been an issue. The denomination’s leadership in the abolition movement is  evidence of the fact Free Will Baptists currently spend millions of dollars every year to take the good news of Jesus Christ to every race.”

On Thursday, the association “encouraged the church” to “reverse its decision.”

Gulnare Freewill Baptist members voted nine to six invoking the ban when a longtime member became engaged to her boyfriend from Zimbabwe.

However, Pastor Stepp discussed the racial intolerance vote with the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists. It consists of 13 Pike County churches.

Following a Saturday meeting, the Sandy Valley Conference declared that the Gulnare vote violated Robert’s Rules of parliamentary procedure.  The church has 44 members either a simple majority of the membership (23 votes) or a two-third majority of those voting (ten)  would have been necessary.

“We the churches of the Big Sandy Valley Conference strongly denounce prejudice, racism, and all ungodly forms of conduct whether within the church or without,” the statement said.

As a result, the pastor said the vote has been rendered “null and void.”

An informal vote of unity is expected at the Sunday service.

 Two Kentucky television stations from Louisville and Lexington, reported late Saturday evening that the national association has found “not enough church members” voted on the decision and, further, the vote violates state and federal equality law. The Regional Association made the determination.

 Despite the procedural posture, internet forum commentators unanimously denounce the church’s original stance.

There will not be separate rooms in Heaven; we are to love one another no matter what color our skin,” wrote Deloris Hurley. Tammy Watt, Russel County High School student, wrote, “glad it was overturned…we are all equal in God’s eyes and we’re all made in his image.”

Kathy Maynard, a Kaplan University student added, “God doesn’t judge us by our color, he loves us all.”

Still, some of those commenting did not have love and forgiveness on their mind related to the pastor or whomever brought the matter before the congregation of 40 , of which only 15 voted.

Winchester, Ky., writer, Jeff Hampson, stated “now, ban the minister.”

But , the retired minister stated he did not bring the matter to a vote before the congregation. The decision originally stated that interracial couples could not participate in services, alluding to the female member’s occasional solos at the church.

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