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Kentucky church bars interracial couples

PIKEVILLE, Ky., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in eastern Kentucky has banned interracial couples from membership, congregation members say.

Dean Harville, a longtime member and church secretary, told the Lexington Herald-Leader the issue came up after his daughter brought her fiance to a service in June. Stella Harville played the piano while Ticha Chakuni, who is from Zimbabwe, sang.

In November, Melvin Thompson, who had resigned as pastor of the congregation, which typically draws about 40 people to its Sunday service, in August, asked for a vote on interracial couples. Members voted 9-6 Sunday that they could not be members and could not participate in certain ways, although they can attend church.

Other members present did not vote, Harville said.

"It sure ain't Christian. It ain't nothing but the old devil working," Harville said of the motion.

Thompson, a hardware-store owner who stepped down as pastor for health reasons, said the motion was being taken out of context, but offered no further explanation, the newspaper said.

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