President-elect Jimmy Carter and the other members of the Plains Baptist Church voted today to deny membership to the Rev. Clennon King, the black minister who first sought to join the church shortly before Carter's election.
Applications for membership by King and two of his supporters were unanimously rejected by the congregation at a meeting immediately after the regular worship service.
Hugh Carter, the President-elect's cousin and the church clerk, said the applicants were rejected because they failed to appear before a membership screening committee on Friday and because they live so far from Plains that it would be difficult for them "to carry out the spirit of our church covenants."
King is the minister of a non-denominational church in Albany, Ga., about 30 miles from here. The other two applicants, Austin Black and Charlotte Weinberger, are residents of Los Angeles.
Standing on the church steps as Hugh Carter explained the congregation's action to reporters. King denied being invited to appear before the screening committee, known as the watch care committee.
"You are telling a lie on the church doorstep," King told Hugh Carter.
King also vowed to continue seeking membership. "As long as they have that sign saying this is a church, I'm going to come here and knock on the doors for membership," he said. "If they say it's a social circle, I'll leave it be."
At a dramatic meeting Nov. 14, the congregation, with Jimmy Carter and his family leading the way, overturned the deacons' action. The congregation voted to open both church services and membership to blacks and others, and established the watch care committee to screen membership applications.
After the meeting, the President-elect left eh church by a side door without speaking to reporters and hundreds of tourists huddled in damp cold outside the small white frame building.
On Oct. 31, the Sunday before Election Day, King announced he would seek membership and first appeared at the Plains Baptist Church. But the board of deacons canceled the day's worship services rather than let him attend.
King's efforts to join precipitated a crisis at the church, although black Secret Service agents and tourists and attended services throughout the summer. The deacons voted to reaffirm a 1965 church resolution that barred "Negroes or any other civil rights agritators" from attending services or becoming members of the congregation.
The deacons then also sought to ousted the Rev. Bruce Edwards as pastor because of his opposition to the anti-black policy.
At a dramatic meeting Nov. 14, the congregation, with Jimmy Carter and his family leading the way, overturned the deacons' action. The congregation voted to open both church services and membership to blacks and others, and established the Watch Care COmmittee to screen membership applications.
Although that vote represented a victory for King, he has since refused to attend the worship services unless he was also made a member of the congregation. But that was not considered likely since King is widely resented by the church members and other ressidents of Plains who believe his actions have been politically motivated.
Pastor Edwards said today that last Monday he sent a letter inviting King 10 appear before the watch care committee on Friday, and that he also tried, unsuccessfully, to reach King by telephone.