Interracial Couple Spurned

ByABC News
July 10, 2000, 12:59 PM

C O L U M B U S, Ohio, July 10 -- A southern Ohio pastor has refused toallow his church to be used for an interracial wedding, forcing thecouple to move the ceremony.

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

The wedding was to have been performed at the Pleasant ValleyCommunity Church in the Pike County community of Jasper, about 60miles south of Columbus, by Bumgardners brother, a newly ordainedminister.

The church pastor, the Rev. Donald Ellis, said he prohibited theuse of the church after learning that Lawrence is black, TheColumbus 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 listingfor him could not immediately be found.

Bumgardner, 26, told the newspaper that her fiance is realhurt by the decision. She said the two met while they were in theArmy.

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

She said she was shocked at Ellis decision.

Its something I would expect in Alabama or Mississippi, but Inever expected it to happen in Ohio, she said.

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

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