In the years since, I have occasionally attended African-American services with friends or been a visiting speaker. More often than not, my wife and young son would join me as the only white church mice to be found among the congregation.
When I traveled with Sawyer, I usually tried to stay inconspicuously in the rear of the church. I say “tried” because many times I was singled out by the preacher and invited to come to the alter to receive a “special” blessing. This usually was about the time for the offertory. I learned to come prepared with a dozen ten dollar bills to drop into the various collection plates.
In one case, my stash proved insufficient. As soon as I dropped a ten dollar donation into the basket, the pastor peered longingly over his glasses into my wallet. With each new Hamilton dropped into the basket I got a hardier “thank you, brother” until he was satisfied that I had tithed appropriately – at about the fifty dollar mark, as I recall.
With all the press attention paid to the divisive screeds of Wright, Pfleger and a few other publicity seeking reverends, I hope the public in general will not assume that they represent all the black pastors.