A small Greenville church with a predominantly black congregation is rejoicing after receiving an anonymous $2,000 donation that also came with a unique apology.
Members of the Nicholtown Presbyterian Church, at 201 Carter St., found the typed letter along with two post office money orders, each for a $1,000, in the church's mailbox last week.
In the letter dated May 13, the donor gave two reasons for sending the money.
"First, I am white and used to be a terrible racist."
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The $2,000 donation they said was a "heartfelt apology to African American Community, and a sign of God's love for you, and as a sign of my love for you as well."
The second reason was to show that "miracles, just as in Biblical times, still happen today, this is it!"
Beverly Kelly, pastor of the Mattoon Presbyterian Church and moderator of the session for Nicholtown Presbyterian Church, said the donation came at the perfect time.
"It's like a miracle," Kelly laughed.
Kelly said she was in the process 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. The mission also provides the children breakfast.
Funds at the Nicholtown church, which has been around since 1951 and currently has 25 members, were becoming limited, she said, and the church had been working with Fourth Presbyterian Church to provide breakfast to the children.
"That mission has been something from Sunday to Sunday, and we always find someway to feed them.
The letter writer asked that the money be used for "any purpose you see fit."
The money orders will be deposited soon, Kelly said, but there hasn't been any decision on how to use the money.
Kelly said while she's thankful for the donation, she's more thankful for the donor's transformation.
"We know that if this person has truly asked God to forgive them, we know that God has heard that confession and truly does forgive," she said. "Forgiveness means more than saying I'm sorry. Forgiveness means, that 'I am going to change, I'm going to turn around and live differently. I'm going to live as God wants me to live.'"
"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."