A North Carolina church is under fire after requesting that only white volunteers serve as greeters for morning services.
According to Charlotte news station WBTV, Pastor Makeda Pennycooke at Freedom House Church sent out an email to the congregation requesting that “only white people” be allowed to greet guests at the front doors during coming 9 a.m. services.
"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks," Pennycooke, herself a black woman, wrote in the email. She went on to state that "first impressions matter" before claiming that the church needs "the best of the best on the front doors."
"We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line," Pennycooke continued. "So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors."
Church member Carmen Thomas, who sent the letter in to WBTV, says she was appalled by the church’s request for white only greeters. She insists that the church itself is very diverse and includes a wide variety of races.
"I was floored," she told the station. "Like it was a jaw-dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door. But when you come through those doors, you're going to see African Americans, you're gonna see Asians. You're going to see people of color."
Thomas says Pennycooke believes there were too many black people working the front door and that the church wanted to emphasize its white members more prominently.
Officials at Freedom House Church called the email a miscalculation on Pennycooke’s part. In an apology sent to Time magazine, the church wrote that the pastor simply wanted to highlight the church’s diversity and was in the wrong to single out any one race in her original email.
Read Freedom House Church’s full apology to Time below:
One of our longtime pastors, in keeping with our church’s desire to be inclusive and intentionally reach out to all races, noticed our front door greeting team was no longer reflecting the racial diversity of our entire congregation, and she wanted potential visitors to see people like themselves upon entering our church. However, she made an error in judgment in requesting all white greeters at the front door, going overboard in placing emphasis on any one race over another in trying to highlight diversity within the greeting team. She admits this was a grave lapse in judgment and is sincerely sorry for her actions. She immediately apologized and has asked our forgiveness. She and senior pastors have made themselves available to meet with any church members who want to discuss this situation with them, and have communicated their true heart in this matter — to be a church welcoming and inclusive to all. Freedom House believes in a diverse relationship within its membership, reflecting the larger community in which the church resides, doing life together as a church representative of everyone — culturally, ethnically, economically, and generationally.