Pastor Opposes Church’s Ban on Interracial Couples

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A local Baptist leader is speaking out after news broke of a tiny, all-white Baptist church in the rural Appalachian Kentucky mountains which banned interracial couples from attending services or participating in them.

It happened at the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County.

"For someone who has been going, for Stella at least, who has been going to that church for all her life, you know, she was expecting some support from them," Ticha Chikuni told TV station WLEX.

Stella Harville and Ticha Chikuni attended services as an engaged couple.

Chikuni also performed a song during the service.

Members then voted to ban interracial couples.

"As a result of that you have people that were hurt," said local Pastor Christine Smith, from the Covenant Baptist Church in Wickliffe.

Smith is the president of the Cleveland Baptist Association.

"There has always been racist tendencies in the church because of misinterpretations of scripture," Smith said, adding the ban goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

"Jesus is not concerned about the color of your skin. He's not concerned about whether you are black and you marry a white person," Smith said.

"Everyone just fell off the bandwagon and passed really harsh judgment on her, on us and the family, too," Chikuni said to WLEX.

(Associated Press Reporter Dylan Lovan and WLEX-TV contributed to this report.)

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