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How to help rebuild historically black churches burned in Louisiana: 5 things you can do

How to help rebuild historically black churches burned in Louisiana: 5 things you can do
The burnt ruins of the Greater Union Baptist Church, one of three that recently burned down in St. Landry Parish, are seen in Opelousas, La. The first fire occurred March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, and the second happened April 2 at Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas. On April 4, Mount Pleasant caught fire. [Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock]

After a fire decimated Notre Dame, French billionaires, tech companies, fashion houses, and above-average citizens from around the world rushed to help France rebuild the cathedral. Now nearly a billion dollars have been pledged to help restore the church, which took a century to build after construction started in 1160, and return it to its former glory.

Notre Dame is a Unesco World Heritage site that welcomed visitors from around the world to see its glorious Rose Window and flying buttresses. Watching flames topple its famed spire was heartwrenching, which led to an outpouring of financial goodwill from the likes of Bernard Arnault, whose family owns the luxury conglomerate LVMH, and François-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Paris-based luxury goods group Kering, which owns brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Even Apple has donated to restore the church.

In the United States, though, some pointed out that there are burned churches much closer to home. They also need rebuilding and don’t have billionaires rushing to join the cause. Three historically black churches in one south Louisiana parish have burned in the past few weeks, in a wave of suspected hate crimes by a suspected arsonist who is the son of a local law enforcement officer.

[Photo: courtesy of Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office]
In a now-viral Twitter thread, journalist Yashar Ali called attention to the churches’ plight and urged people to donate to their repair. As he notes, the black churches don’t have the resources of the French state, the support of billionaires, or the attention of the world to bolster their cause, but you can help and here’s how:

  • Donate to the verified GoFundMe campaign. The money raised is to be distributed equally among the three century-old churches: St. Mary Baptist Church, which burned on March 26 in Port Barre, and Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.
  • According to The Advocate, Greater Union Baptist and Mount Pleasant Baptist communities are asking that anyone looking to help them rebuild the churches send donations via check rather than on crowdfunding websites, as they worry about fraudulent accounts. (GoFundMe’s verified campaign is safe, it should be noted).
  • St. Mary Baptist Church has set up a crowdfunding option on the church’s website; through Tithe.ly, a giving platform that caters to churches. Those interested in donating can either download the platform’s app or access a donation page through the church’s website. Or they can be mailed to St. Mary MBC at 103 Saquette Road, Port Barre, LA 70577.
  • Donations to Greater Union Baptist can be sent via check to Greater Union Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1254, Opelousas, LA 70571.
  • The Rev. Gerald Toussaint of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church said donations can be made through Chase Bank or sent to the Chase Bank branch at 1737 S. Union St. in Opelousas, he said. Donations should be addressed to Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, Attn: James Espree and Ernest Hines.
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