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Predominantly Black Church in SC Receives $2,000 Donation, Apology From Anonymous Donor Who ‘Used to Be a Terrible Racist’

WYFF screenshot
WYFF screenshot

A predominantly black church in Greenville, S.C., received a surprising $2,000 donation a few weeks ago from an anonymous donor who claimed to be a former “terrible racist.”

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According to Fox Carolina, the Rev. Michael Sullivan of the Nicholtown Presbyterian Church still gets goosebumps when he reads the letter enclosed with the donation or shares it with others.

“Hearing his testimony ... in a sense he had been changed from a particular mindset,” Sullivan said.

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“I am white and used to be a terrible racist,” the letter, which is dated May 13, reads. “Thanks to Jesus and the Holy Spirit acting through the Presbyterian Church, I have been cleansed of that.

“I send this donation as a heartfelt apology to the African-American community, as a sign of God’s love for you and as a sign for my love for you as well,” it added.

Enclosed was the donation of $2,000, some of which Sullivan said will be used to start new programs directed at youths in the area.

Aside from a heartfelt thank-you, Sullivan also had another message for the donor.

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“Just letting them know that they’re loved,” he said. “I think that’s what we really need to do more of—share the love of God.”

Beverly Kelly, pastor of Mattoon Presbyterian Church and moderator of the session for Nicholtown Presbyterian, told the Greenville News that the donation came at the perfect time. She said that she was in the middle of requesting a $1,400 grant from the presbytery to supplement the church’s mission of transporting neighborhood children to and from church on Sundays and also providing them with breakfast.

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“It’s like a miracle,” Kelly told the news site. “That mission has been something from Sunday to Sunday, and we always find some way to feed them.

“I would like to meet and have a conversation with someone who has made such a change and be able to thank them in person,” she added.

Read more at Fox Carolina and Greenville News.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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DISCUSSION

People can and do change. Does not happen often enough. Does not excuse their past but the change, if heartfelt, should be welcome.

I used to argue with my grandfather when I was a teenager about race. He was terrible. He blamed black people for “ruining” his neighborhood and was full of bitter resentment.

Fast forward 25 years. I’m married to a black woman and my grandfather (recently passed) absolutely loved her. He was ashamed of things he said in the past.

The difference, I think, is contact. When people of other races are separate then bigotry can thrive. It is harder when your face-to-face experience with people (who are of a different shade) shows you how these beliefs just do not match reality.

My grandfather was wrong. That will never change. But I am glad that, before he passed, he recognized this and became a better person for it.