Interracial couple ban voted "null and void"

By: Jerrika Insco Email
By: Jerrika Insco Email

Controversy about a freewill baptist church's decision not to condone interracial marriage in Pike County has caught national attention.

The Sandy Valley Conference includes more than a dozen member churches, and they voted Saturday in Bowling Fork to reinforce rules to help the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church.

The Sandy Valley Conference's meeting was closed to the public.

The meeting was scheduled before the controversy erupted at Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, but it was still a hot topic on the agenda.

"I don't believe it's right. People should be able to worship. I don't care what color their skin is," said Mr. Bowling, who lives in Bowling Fork and attends the church that the meeting was held in.

"We believe that everyone is welcome in the house of God, and we are not a racist group of people," said Bobby Mullins, the pastor at Martin County Freewill Baptist Church.

A vote conducted by Pastor Stacy Stepp banned interracial couples membership at his church.

Members of the Sandy Valley Conference say that Pastor Stacy Stepp asked for their assistance.

Conference members say Pastor Stepp's vote was not in proper order.

"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 an 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.

Pastor Stepp plans on bringing his church together to vote on the matter one last time.

But members of the conference say racism of any form is unacceptable and another vote will not change their decision.

"It's done. It's over. It's against our rules," said Patton.

The interracial couple in question is Stella Harville and her fiance from Zimbabwe.

The Harville family says they have no hard feelings.

"My daughter is doing good on this. She's moving forward. It's time to get it behind us. She's doing okay," said Dean Harville, who is Stella's father and a member of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church.

The Harvilles say they are ready for their church to get back to normal by allowing all people of all races to attend.

Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church's final vote on interracial marriage is set for Sunday following the church's morning service.

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  • by Jenny Location: Lexington on Dec 6, 2011 at 09:26 AM
    I think the church realized they had a person who could anchor their relay team or at least make headlines for them in the Boston Marathon (yes, that's sarcasm folks. The church never should have voted on this in the first welcome ALL!)
  • by Paul on Dec 5, 2011 at 01:16 PM
    Most of you are all preach that Jesus would no judge like this...but most of you preach gay people shouldn't be allowed. What is the difference? Do you feel you should hate them? But most of you have a reason to hate them so it's different...not really your just as bad in your own way.
  • by Merci Location: KY on Dec 5, 2011 at 07:16 AM
    Enough aleady. We know what is in the hearts of the people who voted for this ban so nothing has changed. If this is the way they feel, I say leave them alone and let them have their racist little church.
  • by Concerned on Dec 4, 2011 at 06:34 PM
    Very classy reporting!!!!

    "The interracial couple in question is Stella Harville and her fiance from Zimbabwe."

    Does the young man not have a name? Total disrespect. You guys just add fuel to the fire.
  • by Walter Location: Stearns on Dec 4, 2011 at 06:30 PM
    Remember that saying "what would Jesus do?" In answering that question, I have a tough time believing our Lord and Savior would support this or any church in such a ban as this. Did not Jesus say Who so ever will, let him come? I don't recall The Lord putting any racial boundaries on that scripture. What gives them the right to?
  • by Sunon Location: louisville on Dec 4, 2011 at 05:53 PM
    So they know it's 2011? Organized religion is such a bust.
  • by Sandra Location: Eastern KY on Dec 4, 2011 at 05:33 PM
    First of all I am a Christian. The Bible does speak against gay and lesbian's. But nowhere in there does it say a man or a woman that is a different skin color can marry that I have found. Michael you are right Heaven is not segregated. God created the Heaven and the earth and everything in it. So that being said, I feel the church is attempting to be judges.
  • by Sheena Location: Virginia Beach on Dec 4, 2011 at 04:16 PM
    I've been waiting and waiting to comment. Thinking first it wasn't worth commenting because we all have our opinions. However, this is the time: In the big scheme of things (you know "the big picture") ... a church is a building (built by man, man created by God).... this is just the way I believe. KNOW there are differences out there - and that's what's so great about this wonderful country. Some worship in a building, thinking they "HAVE" to go to a building to be close to God. Some go a few times a year to show off their Easter/Christmas dresses. Some choose to not go to a building at all. I drive to school, the store, etc and praise God for all His blessings. I don't need a building or the congregation to "approve of me, my maker is my approval OR disapproval of me." Because this has gained "National Attention" (and though I don't agree with it) ... it's this "building and the people that attend the building's prerogative to decide who can and cannot enter. Second thought: those who judge based on skin color "may not" enter the TRUE kingdom of God. He made us all and whether some want to believe it or not, He loves us all and we in turn should "love each other." If you attend this "church" good for you - if you choose NOT to attend - good for you. At least we have the CHOICE to attend/not attend ..... believe ot not believe. It's what's in our hearts and how we live our daily lives that GOD looks at, and in the end HE is the ONLY ONE that matters.
  • by ken Location: prestonsburg on Dec 4, 2011 at 03:59 PM
    Everyone needs to find a church that teaches truth and where the Lord makes the rules - not men! This is a perfect example of why there is additional revelation on this planet. Satan is deceiving so many people and it is so sad. For more information on finding out more about the Lord's eternal truths (and not men's) go to
  • by B Location: London on Dec 4, 2011 at 02:45 PM
    Could this pastor have consulted the Sunny Valley Conference (governing body for his church) before allowing this issue to come to a vote in his church avoiding this fiasco altogether? The decision to outcast someone due to race is clearly wrong and he is supposed to be the spiritual leader of the church. What does that say about him when he allows another church member to make a decision for the church that is morally and spiritually wrong without consulting the church's governing body? He should learn and grow from this series of events or consider giving up his leadership position in my opinion.


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