A former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan who was at Charlottesville, Virginia last year, says he has changed for the better and is no longer filled with hate after repenting and being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.
NBC News reports Ken Parker was one of the hundreds of white nationalists who had gathered at the city's Emancipation Park around a statue of Robert E. Lee for a "Unite the Right" Rally. During the rally, counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed and 19 injured by a car ramming attack.
Parker told the network he felt the need to be in Charlottesville on that day to "stand up for my white race."
"It was thinly veiled as an effort to save our monuments, to save our heritage," he said about the rally. "But we knew when we went in there that it was gonna turn into a racially heated situation, and it wasn't going to work out good for either side."
But it was the kindness of a stranger that started him down a different path. After being dispersed by local law enforcement officials after the rally was declared an unlawful assembly, he met filmmaker Deeyah Khan, who was working on a documentary on hate groups.
"She was completely respectful to me and my fiancée the whole time," he told NBC News about Khan. "And so that kind of got me thinking: She's a really nice lady. Just because she's got darker skin and believes in a different God than the God I believe in, why am I hating these people?"
Then a later chance meeting with William McKinnon III, a black pastor with the All Saints Holiness Church, changed his life. McKinnon invited Parker to the church's Easter service and he liked what he saw and he heard. His testimony in front of the church membership was something many of the members will never forget.
"I said I was a grand dragon of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn't hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi — and a lot of them, their jaws about hit the floor and their eyes got real big," Parker recalled. "But after the service, not a single one of them had anything negative to say. They're all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down."
Then a few weeks ago, wearing a white baptismal robe, Parker and several members of the church walked into the Atlantic Ocean. The church members were there to watch Parker be baptized into Christ.