Photo above: Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, left, Pastor Theresa Roberts of Love House Ministries, Rep. Shannon Erickson, and Pastor Randy Roberts, also of Love House Ministries, raise their hands in a show of support at the Racial Harmony Bowling Event. Photos by Bob Sofaly.
By Bob Sofaly and Sally Mahan
Pastors Randy and Theresa Roberts of Love House Ministries were hoping that at least 250 people would show up for the inaugural Racial Harmony Bowling Event at the Community Bowling Center on Aug. 23.
They got more than they bargained for.
More than 1,000 folks showed up to support the organization and reject racial slurs that were spray painted on one of the center’s exterior walls on Aug. 19.
Randy Roberts said the graffiti was removed with the help of local officials.
“Thank you to the Beaufort city mayor, city manager, fire chief and firefighters for your support in removing the graffiti off the wall so rapidly,” he wrote on Aug. 21 on Love House Ministries’ Facebook page.
After the graffiti was removed, Randy and Theresa Roberts wanted to bring the community together, so they decided to hold a free Racial Harmony Bowling Event at the bowling center on Ribaut Road.
“This is in direct response to the racist graffiti on our wall,” Roberts said. “We wanted to show our community that ‘Love is Beaufort Strong.’ ”
About 20 other churches throughout the community contributed to make the bowling event a success.
“One church contacted me and is bringing hot dogs and burgers, another is bringing freeze pops, another soda, another donation boxes, another a bounce house – and from all different denominations,” Roberts said before the event took place.
In addition to community members, many elected officials also attended the bowling event.
State Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, said, “We have a choice: We let the negative define us or we turn that negativity into happiness.”
Happiness and fellowship won the day.
“There is no place for that (racist graffiti) in our community,” one person said. “Not in our town.”
Meanwhile, a 52-year-old Beaufort man was arrested and charged with writing the racist phrases at Love House Ministries and the former Shell station, both on Ribaut Road in Beaufort.
Jason Lyman was held on a $5,000 bond for each of two counts of illegal graffiti. He paid his bond and has been released from the Beaufort County Detention Center.