Church that once profited from KKK raises money for racial equality: 'A pledge to continued growth'

Algiers United Methodist Church of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Algiers United Methodist Church of New Orleans, Louisiana. | Charlotte Hemard

A congregation in Louisiana that once received a small donation from the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s recently raised money for efforts to advance racial equality.

In 2020, Algiers United Methodist Church of New Orleans learned that the KKK had donated $100 to the congregation in 1922, around the time that their sanctuary was consecrated.

In response to learning about this, Algiers donated $1,675 over the next 12 months to various groups that help minority neighborhoods and advance anti-racism efforts.

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Church historian Sarah A. Waits, who chairs the AUMC Diversity Task Force, told The Christian Post on Monday that they decided to donate $1,675 because that was equal to the $100 donation in 1922 when adjusted for inflation.

The first organization that will benefit from the donations will be About Family and Community Engagement, or About FACE, which was founded by AUMC member Lyndon Jones.

“We have discussed choosing a different nonprofit per quarter, with the understanding that the organization provides beneficial services for the black community within the New Orleans region,” said Waits.

Waits also told CP that, to her knowledge, the congregation did not have any other ties to the KKK, adding that the Klan was at the peak of its power when it made the donation.

“The KKK was at its most powerful in the early 1920s. Across the country, KKK groups were hosting public parades, supporting political candidates in local and statewide elections, and organizing a reign of terror among many nationwide,” she said.

“They were not only targeting black communities; they also were harassing, brutalizing and murdering Jews, Catholics, the Latinx community, and women involved in the Suffragist movement.”

Waits said the plan to donate $1,675 to anti-racism efforts is “a pledge to continued growth and recognition that every person is created in the image of God.”

In a joint statement emailed to CP, Waits and AUMC Pastor JoAnne Pounds said they saw the effort as reflecting the United Methodist hymnal vow used during baptisms and confirmation to accept the “freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

“Our congregation wants to live out these vows standing against evil, including institutional and individual racism. While 1922 was a different time and space, white supremacy was never a part of who God has called us to be,” they stated.

“We want to be a congregation known for who we include, for a legacy of inclusion, not one of exclusion. Knowledge is power, and more understanding gives us the power to recognize our implicit biases and work harder to do better.”  

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