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Process Mishandled, But Donations Distributed Fairly, Says AME Official
5/11/2016 4:39:54 PM

Rev. Dr. Juenarrl Keith
By Barney Blakeney

Emanuel AME Church last week finally distributed millions of dollars in donations it received since the June 17 murders of nine victims at the church.

The church distributed $1.5 million to the families of the nine victims and five survivors of the shooting.

It kept $1.8 million of the total donations sent to the church. Response to the announcement was mixed, but some church officials say the distribution was fair.

Almost immediately after the murders, financial donations began pouring into the church.

And just as quickly, critics began to question how those donations were being handled.

The Rev. Norvel Goff, presiding Elder of the AME Church Seventh Episcopal District of South Carolina, was named interim pastor after Emanuel Pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney was gunned down along with eight others that fateful night.

Within months after the murders, Goff became a target for for critics questioning distribution of the donations.

News reports noted accusations from members of two churches Goff previously pastored who claimed he engaged in financial undertakings that left them with concerns.

Members at Baber AME Church in Rochester, N.Y. said Goff left the church with unofficially incurred debt and never repaid large sums of money borrowed from a deceased member.

Members at Reid Chapel in Columbia also said Goff left them with debt.

Criticism also came from members of Emanuel who said Goff and some church members conspired to bilk funds that had amassed since the June 17 church shootings. Several persons contacted The Chronicle about concerns donations were not being handled properly. Cash donations especially were questioned. The church would not announce how much had been donated or how those funds were to be distributed.

One church official this week said Goff’s refusal to be more transparent about the process in the beginning fueled the controversy about the donation. In August, attorneys for Arthur Hurd, husband of victim Cynthia Hurd, filed a lawsuit asking the court to prevent the church from making any disbursements from the donations until a full accounting was completed and that information was made available. Checks were sent to recipients last week.

The source said, “Goff handled things poorly from the beginning. Had he treated the families properly things may have been different and there may not have been as much uproar. Goff allowed the media to shape the story, but at the end of the day I think things probably are where they should be. Emanuel’s attorney Wilbur Johnson is trustworthy.”

Rev. Dr. Juenarrl Keith, presiding Elder of Emanuel’s Palmetto District conference, said he feels the church was benevolent in its distribution of the donations. Most of the money was specified to go to the church, he said.

“The public doesn’t realize it, but the church and the administrators are getting a bad rap,” Keith said.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Carol Waddell Submitted: 7/18/2016
They are getting a bad rap ! People that don't know what they are talking about NEED to keep ALL their mouths shut. Especially the one with the biggest mouth, do I have to mention his name ?

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