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With donations trickling in, $10 ministry continues

The Rev. Miniard Culpepper of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, gave a $10 bill to a shopper at Save-A-Lot. He handed out $250 each at Save A Lot and Stop & Shop, for a total of $500.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Since the Rev. Miniard Culpepper began handing out $10 bills to people financially affected by the coronavirus, letters have started trickling in to his Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church with offerings.

“From every community,” Culpepper said Sunday by phone from the church on Humboldt Avenue in Dorchester, where he was reading through the letters. He had just finished a Sunday service, live-streamed on Facebook for worshipers to watch at home.

“Jamaica Plain, Newton, Belmont, Watertown,” he said. “They come from all over.”

The church has dubbed this the $10 ministry: Go out and offer $10 bills to people who need them. It’s a twist on the church’s other direct charitable giving efforts: They have given out $200 in $20 increments at holidays, food around Thanksgiving, and gifts on Christmas.

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Since businesses across Massachusetts have begun temporarily closing their doors because of social-distancing measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Culpepper has started collecting money for the $10 ministry. There are the old-fashioned envelopes coming through the US postal service from the church’s usual worshipers, but the church also set up a GoFundMe and is on Cash App, through the handle $PleasantChurch7.

After Sunday’s service, Culpepper headed out with 50 $10 bills, to be distributed outside the Stop & Shop in Grove Hall and the Save-A-Lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He wore gloves, as he has on previous trips, and for the first time a mask.

“We’re going do it for as long as people give. I think it’s a ministry that is really needed,” he said. “Different ministries are developed to meet different times. And so I think it’s important that ministries continue, because folks continue to be challenged financially.”

At the Save-A-Lot Sunday afternoon, some people happily took the money and said thank you. Culpepper said he gave one $10 bill to a cab driver who has been giving free rides to people who can’t afford to pay.

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“Some people just said, ‘I can’t believe it,’ ” Culpepper said Sunday afternoon. “I think I heard that more than anything: ’I can’t believe it.’ ”

Some people declined the money, saying they’re all set.

“There was one guy last Sunday, he didn’t want anything but when he came out he gave us a $20 bill,” Culpepper said.

They gave the $20 to another person passing by.

“That’s the Lord’s work,” Culpepper said. “And so I feel like I’m really coming closer to being the church the Lord wants us to be. ... We are each other’s keeper.”

Pat Greenhouse of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Gal Tziperman Lotan is a former Globe staff member.