Ky. Church Nixes Ban on Interracial Couples

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An eastern Kentucky Church overturned its ban on interracial couples Sunday, saying it welcomes all believers.

The tiny Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church located in Pike County became the center of a media firestorm over its recent decision ban interracial couples from its congregation.

Church officials said they've since been flooded with angry phone calls and emails.

The controversy began when Cathy Harville, the daughter of church secretary Dean Harville, visited the all-white, 40-member church over the summer with her African boyfriend, and the two sang for the congregation.

Last week, a small group of the church's members voted nine to six to deny membership to interracial couples.

However, the vote was declared null and void by the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists after it was determined that new bylaws can't run contrary to local, state or national laws.

Stacy Stepp, the church's pastor, said the proposal was discriminatory, and therefore it couldn't be adopted.

When the congregation voted again over the weekend, the outcome was different.

"We voted a vote to accept all people regardless of race creed of color, accept everyone in the fellowship of Christ," Stepp said.

"It was an answered prayer for me, so this has a good ending," Cathy Harville said.

Stepp says he opposed the ban from the beginning and is ready to get his church back on the right track.

He said the resolution to welcome all believers passed with a unanimous vote.

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