Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church has been given the smackdown by their denomination’s governing body and will just have to find other ways to promote the unity of their church body.
Did the church itself change its mind on the issue? Not really.
Stepp said the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists declared the vote on Thompson’s resolution null and void during a meeting on Saturday.
The former pastor of Gulnare got the church members to pass a resolution that says, “We don’t have a problem with those people, we just don’t want them marrying our girls!” and the Sandy Valley Conference effectively took the matter out of their hands. It doesn’t matter if they’ve changed their minds, it doesn’t matter whether the sudden uproar from all four corners of the Earth has persuaded them that cross-racial marriage should not be considered a bad thing, and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve considered that the resolution they’d passed was a really crappy message to send to their church secretary about his family. In this case, it’s not their decision. Their church WILL NOT bar interracial couples from church membership, as long as they’re a member of the Sandy Valley Conference.
On the one hand, I don’t think they actually have to worry about any interracial couples trying to join their church any time soon. The message has already been sent that the church environment will not be a welcoming one. On the other hand, at least their current pastor has his head screwed on tight w/r/t race relations.
The response to having All the Internet gape in horror at them has been thus:
[Pastor Stacy Stepp] said he told church members on Sunday about the decision and proposed a resolution to promote “peace, love and harmony.”
Stepp said about 30 people who attended church services voted on a new resolution that welcomes “believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color.”
Where were those 30 people, I wonder, when the anti-interracial-couples resolution was passed 9-6?
I would like to note that the new resolution is not exactly a reversal of the previous one. In spirit, yes, but in letter, not really. Former Pastor Thompson would probably argue that he’s not racist, and the effect of the resolution was not racist, because it wouldn’t have stopped people of color from joining the church—just as long as they’re not married to white people.
Realistically, if you actually believe that all racial groups are human first and foremost, and that all groups are equally good and worthy, and that it’s the variation between individuals that really means something, and that no one group needs to be protected from contamination by another, then you should have no problem with people of different colors getting married and having mixed-race kids together. And if you have no problem with their families, then you should not have any problem attending church with them.
However, the new resolution is about welcoming believers. It doesn’t say anything about their spouses. It shows that the church has been reprimanded, but not that it’s thinking differently.