A tiny, all-white Appalachian church in rural Kentucky that voted to bar interracial couples from its congregation will be asked to overturn its decision, its pastor said Friday.
Stacy Stepp, pastor of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he will ask members to reconsider the decision, perhaps as early as Sunday.
"We're going to get it resolved," Stepp told the Kentucky newspaper.
The church was drawn harsh criticism this week after its members voted 9-6 on the resolution, which says the church "does not condone interracial marriage" or allow such couples to join or take part in certain worship activities.
The church member who crafted the resolution, Melvin Thompson, said he called the matter an "internal affair."
"I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil about a race," said Thompson, the church's former pastor who stepped down earlier this year. "That's what this is being portrayed as, but it is not."
Church secretary Dean Harville disagreed: He said the resolution came after his 24-year-old daughter, Stella Harville, visited the church this summer with her 29-year-old fiancé, Ticha Chikuni of South Africa.
Harville, a longtime member who serves also as the church clerk, said the couple attended worship service; she played the piano as he sang a song called "I Surrender," NBC New York reported.
Harville said Thompson, who had been pastor for many years, told him in August that the pair couldn't sing at the church again.
In November, Thompson proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend services, the church did not condone interracial marriage. A vote at the church affirmed his stance. Most in the congregation did not vote.
NBC New York’s Greg Wilson, msnbc.com's Sevil Omer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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