When the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was burned and spray-painted with pro-Donald Trump graffiti this week, it was seen by many as one of the lowest points in an election season defined by a seemingly endless parade of low points. But, in an inspiring act of defiance, people from all over America have risen up to stand with the church.
Launched on Wednesday, the “Repair the Hopewell Baptist Church” GoFundMe campaign was attempting to raise $10,000. Instead, it has collected an astonishing $211,535 dollars and counting, with donations coming from across the country and the world.
I spoke with campaign organizer Blair Reeves, who said he launched the initiative in part as a response to the crowdfunding efforts to help the North Carolina GOP after their field offices were burned last month
“I can totally see the internet raising 12 grand for the North Carolina GOP, [which] is literally engaged right now in disenfranchising and suppressing black voters, and not lifting a finger for this black church in Mississippi,” he explained. “I can totally see that. And that would be bullshit.”
After creating the campaign, Reeves went to work, and “by the end of the day, it had like $125,000.”
He’s gotten responses from around the world, including one donor who wrote him from Germany, who explained that the burning of the church reminded him of his grandfather’s experience at the onset of the Holocaust.
On Twitter, Reeves shared a few more of the (anonymized) responses he’s gotten over the short time his GoFundMe initiative has been live.
According to GoFundMe spokesperson Kate Cichy, Reeves’ campaign has seen donations pour in from every state in America, and 28 other nations. Gifts from the campaign’s 6,000-plus donors have ranged anywhere from $5 to $1,000, averaging out at around $35 per person.
Reeves explained that he and Hopewell’s Bishop Clarence Green have been in close communication since the campaign launched. On Twitter, he offered proof that the church has been established as a GoFundMe beneficiary, and money has begun flowing to Hopewell, itself.
“I wish the church hadn’t burned at all,” Reeves told me. “But if it was going to be burned, thank goodness we were able to raise $200,000 in 24 hours.”
“It’s 110 years old, the church,” he continued. “It’s been around for a long time. So, they’re gonna have to rebuild it. And, they’re gonna be able to do that now, which I think is really cool.”