April 18 (UPI) -- A surge in donations pushed a funding project to rebuild three Louisiana churches burned by an arsonist to nearly $2 million in about 36 hours.
Fundraisers for three historic black churches in St. Landry Parish surpassed the crowd-funding goal of $1.8 million. As of Thursday afternoon, the fund started by the Seventh District Baptist Association received more than $1.95 million from about 33,000 contributors.
A Twitter campaign began after the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire Monday to push for rebuilding the Louisiana churches. Before the campaign, the fund had raised about $92,000.
"I want you to continue to keep praying for us," Gerald Toussaint, pastor of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, one of the three churches burned down, said in a video this week. "I can't thank you enough. If I had 10,000 tongues, I couldn't thank you enough. God Bless you."
St. Mary's Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church were burned over the last three weeks. Suspect Holden Matthews faces multiple charges in the case -- including three hate crime counts. Matthews is also charged with simple and aggravated arson of a religious building.