Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church — which has a predominately Black congregation — was set ablaze and vandalized with the words “Vote Trump” on Tuesday, officials said. Images of the charred building showed the church’s brick walls still intact, but the main sanctuary very much destroyed.
According to ABC News, church pastor Carolyn Hudson told reporters Wednesday that the congregation’s “hearts were broken,” but they were praying “God would allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place” one day.
Thanks to a couple thousand donors, their prayers may soon be answered.
A GoFundMe campaign was started Wednesday and has since raised over $200,000 that will go toward the repair and restoration of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. The contributions climbed exponentially, as the page exceeded its original goal of $10,000 in a matter of days.
“Holy crap, y’all we’re almost at $125,000 raised today,” wrote campaign organizer Blair Reeves Jr. Wednesday. “When I ginned up this page before my first meeting at work today, I had no earthly clue it would get so big. Thank you all so much.”
Reeves noted that contributions have poured in from people all over the world, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and even atheists. Ironically, there were even donations from Trump supporters who denounced the heinous crime. Reeves called the outpouring of support “extraordinary.”
Though the GoFundMe page states that Reeves is from Greenville, Mississippi, the campaign organizer is actually from New York, according to ABC News. He said he was “compelled” to start the crowd-funding campaign because he felt the church was entitled to the same kind of monetary support that a North Carolina Republican Party headquarters received when it was firebombed last month.
“The animus of this election cycle combined with the potent racial history of burning black churches as a political symbol makes this event something we must not ignore,” Reeves wrote.
So far, no arrests have been made in the attack, but authorities are investigating it as a hate crime, Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson said. FBI officials in Jackson, Mississippi said they’re also working with state and local authorities to “determine if any civil rights crimes were committed.”
The U.S. Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms also announced in a tweet that the fire was found to be “intentionally set” and an award of up to $11,000 was being offered for any tips that might lead to an arrest.