A Facebook post of a woman who was turned away from a Forrest City, Arkansas, church for apparent racial reasons is garnering social media attention.
Donna Mac, who attempted to visit First Baptist Church in Forrest City this past Sunday (June 26) after being invited by someone, reported that she was questioned at the door by one church member and later referred to as “colored” by another.
After leaving the church before service started, Mac posted about her experience on social media.
“I’ve never in my 34 years of living [witnessed] a church turn someone around because of the color of their skin,” Mac wrote. She then described walking up the steps of the church, where she was met by an older white male who asked her what she came in for, to which she responded, “Church.”
“He stated, ‘Church doesn’t start until 11am,’” Mac wrote, noting that other members were entering the church at the time. “After speaking with the 2nd member (older white lady) I stated, ‘Is everyone not welcome here?’ She stated, ‘We’ve had COLOREDS here before.’”
“I asked, ‘What do you mean Coloreds? Do you mean Black people,’” Mac continued. “Her response, ‘No COLOREDS! When I was growing up we always called them COLOREDS!’”
Following the exchange with the older white church member, Mac “just looked at her and left.” After Mac’s post went viral, the pastor of the church, Steve Walter, told WREG that he believes the incident was a result of “miscommunication.”
“I was deeply grieved that we’re perceived or that what that young woman experienced because that is what we sought to fight against, what she experienced, according to her testimony, according to her Facebook post,” Walter said. “That’s where my heart is, that she experienced something.”
Walter went on to express that he saw this as a “teachable moment” for members of a community that historically has been racially divided.
Notably, Forrest City is named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Klu Klux Klan leader and Confederate general. Nevertheless, this is the area in which Mac grew up, and she lives within a few blocks of the church that turned her away, according to a later Facebook post.
Responding to questions as to why she would have even attempted to attend the church, Mac said, “Yes, there are multiple Black churches in the area, however this one happens to be in MY community. It’s located in a PREDOMINANTLY BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD.”
“So, I didn’t have to go far to find hate did I? No. It was right on the next block,” Mac went on to say.
Referring to other comments she has received about First Baptist Church in Forrest City, Mac said, “For those [saying] ‘they were good to me,’ that may have been the case…I’m sure you were there when they [were] fundraising, ‘giving back to the community,’ hosting an event, and/or playing sports in their facility, all things that were beneficial to the church.”