Three historically African-American churches that were heavily damaged earlier this year by a serial arsonist have received $2.6 million in donations to rebuild, passing the original fundraising goal by about $800,000.
St. Mary’s Baptist Church of Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church of Opelousas will each get approximately $866,000 for their respective rebuilding efforts, according to Huffington Post contributor Yashar Ali on Sunday.
“Folks, we did it!!! Tonight, the pastors of the three historically black Louisiana churches received the funds so many of you donated to help them rebuild,” tweeted Ali, who had encouraged people to donate to the churches.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful!”
Earlier this year, over the span of less than two weeks, the three churches based in St. Landry Parish were targets of an arsonist, causing severe damage to their buildings.
Police eventually arrested a suspect named Holden Matthews, a 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy who had expressed racist and Satanic sentiments on social media and elsewhere.
Notable figures like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted the fundraising efforts for the churches around the time that others were raising money to repair Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral following a fire.
“As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let’s also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana. Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities,” tweeted Clinton with a link to a GoFundMe campaign.
As a result of the social media promotion, the original goal of raising $1.8 million for the churches was exceeded by about $800,000.
Vice President Mike Pence commended the congregations in a speech given last month for their response to the arson attacks, which included forgiving the perpetrator.
“And to think of churches burning one day after another, and how people might have responded, and to see the way people, here in these churches and this community and across Louisiana, responded is an inspiration to the nation,” stated the vice president.
“I’m deeply inspired, as people are all across this country, by the courage and the resilience of these communities of faith, these families of faith, but also by the generous support of the people of Louisiana and people all across the country.”