Opposition to interracial marriages has fallen with every generation, with up to 97 per cent of younger Americans now having no issue with it, polls have indicated, although pockets of resistance still exists in some states.
An eastern Kentucky church under a firestorm of criticism since members voted to bar mixed-race couples from joining the congregation overturned that decision Sunday, saying it welcomes all believers.
Mr Thompson, who stepped down as pastor earlier this year citing health problems, denied that the ban was motivated by racism. That’s what this is being portrayed as, but it is not." He later told a local radio station: “I do not believe in interracial marriages, and I do not believe this will give our church a black eye at all." Zimbabwean Mr Chikuni has lived in the US for 11 years, having come to Kentucky to study, and now works as a student adviser at Georgetown College.
Miss Harville, who is studying for a master's degree in Indiana, said she was “deeply hurt” as she has attended the church since childhood and knows those who voted for the ban personally.
According to Harville's father, Dean Harville, Stella brought Chikuni to the church in June where they performed a song for the congregation.
Following the visit, former pastor Melvin Thompson told Harville that his daughter and her fiance could not sing at the church again.
The church's pastor, Stacy Stepp, has opposed the ban and said the denomination's regional conference will begin working on resolving the issue this weekend.
Interracial marriage was only been legal in all US states since 1967.
Thompson later proposed that the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage.
His proposal, which was accepted by a 9-6 vote last week, also suggested that married interracial couples be prohibited from becoming members and used in worship activities, except for funerals.
A small Kentucky church finds itself at the epicenter of a battle over racism and the gospel.