December 7, 2011- Issue 12 News

GC couple becomes subject of racism at Pike Co. church

Staff Writer
Source: Harville, left, and Chikuni have been a feature of several local, national and international outlets as the news of their story spread.

The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church of Pike County, Ky., has been the feature of countless news pieces across the nation and has even been found in international headlines after members of the church proposed a ban on welcoming interracial couples into the congregation. At the center of the conflict are two of Georgetown’s own: beloved Area Coordinator for Student Activities, Ticha Chikuni and his fiancee, Stella Harville, former student.

Harville, a white woman from the small Eastern Kentucky community, is a native of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church and was baptized there, though she does not hold membership status. It had been reported that Harville introduced her fiance to the congregation earlier this year in June when the couple performed in part of a worship service. The pastor at that time, Melvin Thompson, reportedly approached Harville’s father, a longtime member and secretary of the church, in August and informed him that the couple would no longer be able to sing before the congregation. After resigning as pastor within the month for cited health issues, Thompson was replaced by Stacy Stepp, who invited the couple back to participate in the services.

Though Thompson had resigned, the interracial couple still seemed to be an unsettling point of interest to the former pastor. In early November, he called for the church to publicly document their stance on interracial marriages and proposed that although all people were welcome to attend public services in the small church, the parties of an interracial marriage would not be accepted as members of the congregation and could not take part in any services or functions, a funeral being the only exception. A business meeting of the church saw the proposal put to a vote on Nov. 27, with nine votes in favor of the ban, six opposed and several abstaining.

Since then, harsh criticism has poured in from around the nation against what was perceived to be a revival of racist attitudes in the area. The Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists, to which Gulnare belongs, decided that the vote to ban interracial marriages was void because of in compliance with conference regulations that GC couple becomes subject of racism at Pike Co. church states a church must have an approval of two-thirds to pass a vote, which in this case would have to be 10 votes. Though they had already decided that the vote was void, the Conference has made it clear that they denounce “prejudice, racism, and all forms of ungodly conduct.” Yet, the Gulnare church was approved for the reconsideration that it promised. In a revote this past Sunday, a unanimous vote of 16-0 reversed the previous decision on interracial couples and serves to restate that Gulnare “welcomes all people, regardless of race, creed or color.” Thompson was reported absent at that Sunday’s service.

Though most see the reversal of  this seemingly racist policy a relief, the people of the Pike County and the Gulnare church communities seem to still feel the sting of the conflict. Stella Harville has since reported that it will take quite a bit of time for her and her fiance, Chikuni, to process the events. The couple plans to not return to the church for a long time. However, Harville has been reported to say that if she and Chikuni were to have children, she hoped they could attend church with their grandparents. Harville said, “Don’t let the actions of these nine members change your mind about the community and about God. . . . There really are some good people out there.”

Campus Ministry hosts tacky Christmas sweater party

Staff Writer

We all know the sweet ladies with unfortunate taste in Christmas- themed attire. Today, Dec. 7, their fashion sense can be celebrated rather than frowned upon as freshmen take advantage of those snowmen-and-Santa-laden outfits. It is time for the annual FFG (Freshmen Family Groups) Tacky Christmas Sweater Party. Every freshman should raid the closets of their close relatives (you know the ones) or make a run to Goodwill to find the best get-up possible. Sponsored by Campus Ministry, the evening’s festivities, held in the Bush Center for Fitness, will include food, games and various competitions. Points will be tallied for each family based on three categories: game winners, costumes and Penny War results.

Penny War is a fundraising competition that has been going on for several weeks in which families carry around a custom-made container and collect change. The containers vary from a lantern to a Scooby Snacks box and last year included an impressive paper mache Perry the Platypus. The rules are simple: coins are good, bills are bad. This may not seem conducive to fundraising until it is considered that family rivalries are encouraged and it is customary to sabotage the containers of the competition with cash money. The funds raised go toward Campus Ministry’s spring break mission trips, helping to make that meaningful experience more affordable for students. During the party, the amount each family has raised will factor into their total points. There will be first, second and third place winners for families with the most combined total points.

If last year serves as a precedent, the costume competition should be exciting. The many tacky outfits can be overwhelming, but some families take care to coordinate their efforts. One group last year showed up dressed in matching homemade gingerbread outfits. It was precious and set a high standard for this year’s familes.

All semester, Campus Ministries, including Common Ground and FFG, have followed a theme discussing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting and study. This week’s theme is celebration, so the party is coming at just the right time. It will be a great break during a busy pre-finals week, so all freshmen should come. Even if you have not been to your family’s meetings in a while, show up for a reunion. If you have never joined FFG, it’s not too late. Freshmen can be added to families for the spring semester, so find your tackiest costumes and join Campus Ministries for a night of Christmas fun in the Rec.

Love/Hate posters exposed

Contributing Writer

You may have noticed over the past few weeks some giant posters outside of the Caf that encouraged folks to write down candid comments regarding what they love and hate about Christians, family and God.

These Love/Hate posters were created by a few students on the Campus Ministry Team. The mission of Campus Ministry at Georgetown College is to love people into a growing relationship with Christ. Part of the motivation behind this project was to help the Campus Ministry Team to hear from, learn from and learn about the campus community we are seeking to serve.

We are very grateful that so many of you took the time to share some very personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs on the posters. It undoubtedly took great courage for some of you to write the things that you wrote, and we appreciate deeply you taking the time to invest in this project.

Another motivation behind these  posters involves our hope that they would help to spark conversation on campus about deep and important topics. To continue that conversation, the Campus Ministry Team will be placing a poster up on the same wall outside of the Caf this week on which we will respond to the big themes that emerged in the comments you wrote.

We will also be praying over the sheets this week, both celebrating the comments that expressed joy and grieving and lamenting over the pain and the brokenness that was expressed. From the bottom of our hearts we thank all of you who participated in this project. Take good care and may the grace and peace of the Lamb of God rule in your hearts during this Advent season.


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