Interracial Couple Spurned

A southern Ohio pastor has refused to allow his church to be used for an interracial wedding, forcing the couple to move the ceremony.

But the marriage of Chastity Bumgardner and Henry Lawrence is to take place Saturday as scheduled.

The wedding was to have been performed at the Pleasant Valley Community Church in the Pike County community of Jasper, about 60 miles south of Columbus, by Bumgardner’s brother, a newly ordained minister.

The church pastor, the Rev. Donald Ellis, said he prohibited the use of the church after learning that Lawrence is black, The Columbus Dispatch reported. But he refused to say why.

“This is my church,” Ellis said.

County 98 Percent White

Lawrence, 39, could not be reached for comment. A phone listing for him could not immediately be found.

Bumgardner, 26, told the newspaper that her fiance “is real hurt” by the decision. She said the two met while they were in the Army.

Bumgardner, a Pike County native who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said her brother has found a small church in nearby Beaver for the ceremony.

She said she was shocked at Ellis’ decision.

“It’s something I would expect in Alabama or Mississippi, but I never expected it to happen in Ohio,” she said.

Pike County is about 98 percent white, according to the 1990 U.S. Census, which said there were 327 black county residents at the time.

Bumgardner’s father, Bill Bumgardner, of Waverly, Ohio, would not comment on the wedding.