Members of Nicholtown Presbyterian Church, a small church with a predominantly black congregation in Greenville, South Carolina, recently received a welcome shock in their mailbox when they found a $2,000 donation with an anonymous apology letter from a "terrible" white "racist" who says he was cleansed of his sin by the Holy Spirit.
Beverly Kelly, pastor of Mattoon Presbyterian Church and moderator of the session for Nicholtown Presbyterian Church, told Greenville Online that the timing of the donation was so perfect it felt like a "miracle."
"It's like a miracle," Kelly said laughing.
Kelly explained that she was in the process of requesting a $1,400 grant from the presbytery, to help offset expenses that came with transporting neighborhood children to and from church on Sundays and also proving breakfast.
The surprised church members said they found the typed apology letter dated May 13, along with two $1,000 money orders last week.
"First, I am white and used to be a terrible racist," the donor explained.
"Thanks to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, acting through the Presbyterian Church, I have been cleansed of that. Due to Christ's teachings, I am appalled at my former thoughts and words. 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 of my love for you as well," the former racist said.
"If you were ever looking for proof that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are alive and well today, and that miracles, just as in biblical times, still happen today, this is it!
"It is thanks to Jesus and the Holy Spirit alone that I have been cleansed of my former racism. Apart from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, acting through the Presbyterian Church, this transformation never would have happened."
The Rev. Michael Sullivan, pastor of Nicholtown Presbyterian Church, told WSPA that the letter was a power gesture toward racial reconciliation.
"When I read the letter, I said 'Wow ... Look at how God works,'" Sullivan said.
"I don't care whether we are talking black or white [or] whether we are talking about Christian or Islamic – if we can hear the heart of this man as being a heart that represents all of us, I think all of us can become better."
Even though the church's reformed benefactor has decided to remain anonymous for now, Sullivan said he would love to identify him and give him a hug.
"I wanted to find the guy so I could embrace him," the pastor said.
As he gets his Sunday sermon ready for his flock, Sullivan is finding divine inspiration from the anonymous donor's gesture.
"We can't dwell in the past, but we can make this moment and the moments which are to come better, just by change of heart [and a] change of attitude," he said.