(Updated 8/5/2013) A Charlotte, N.C. church has come under fire after its executive pastor, herself an African-American, sent a letter to some Black greeters which suggested she would rather see White people at the door.

On Aug. 19, Pastor Makeda Pennycooke of Freedom House Church, who is Black, sent an e-mail to a number of volunteers stating that “first impressions matter,” according to The Christian Science Monitor. She added that “only White people” should be greeters, the Monitor reported, saying the policy would “bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line.”

“I was floored,” Carmen Thomas, an African-American church member and volunteer, told Charlotte, N.C. CBS affiliate WBTV. “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.”

In a statement to the AFRO, Freedom House Church explained the controversial e-mail.

“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,” the church said in the statement.

Thomas told WBTV that in her e-mail Pennycooke stated that she wanted “the best of the best on the front door.”

Thomas said Pennycooke’s assumption was that “with a certain congregation that eventually your finances are going to run out because maybe we aren’t the moneymakers.”

“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,” church officials told the AFRO. “She admits this was a grave lapse in judgment and is sincerely sorry for her actions. She immediately apologized and has asked our forgiveness.”


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer