Pastor Makeda Pennycooke of the Freedom House Church in Charlotte, N.C., is coming under fire following an e-mail she sent asking for only white church members to serve as front-door greeters during the Fall season. Despite the fact that she is an African American, the faith leader is being accused of discriminating.
In the note, Pennycooke wrote that the coming season will be very busy and that the church is hoping to bring diversity back to its congregation.
"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks," she wrote, according to WBTV-TV. "We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line. So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors."
When the email made its way to the volunteers, though, one woman -- a member of the church who has volunteered for the past two years -- said she was "floored." Carmen Thomas was so upset, in fact, that she shared the letter with WBTV-TV, which sparked national media attention.
"Like it was a jaw dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door," she said. "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 went on to say that the racial diversity factor may be rooted in the church's financial situation.
"Perhaps you believe that with a certain congregation that eventually your finances are going to run out because maybe we aren't the moneymakers," she added.
In a statement to WBTV-TV, though, a spokesperson for the church attempted to clarify the pastor's words. The individual said that Pennycooke realized that it was a mistake to single out a specific group and that an apology was issued within one day of the original e-mail's distribution
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TheBlaze attempted to reach Pennycooke, but she was not available for comment. A representative for the church told us in a telephone interview that the greeting team had become largely non-white and that the pastor's e-mail was written in search of white greeters to be added to the front door team.
The representative added that the original e-mail was not meant to be racist and that is was phrased poorly. A full statement provided to TheBlaze reads:
"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."
Thomas is no longer attending the church.
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(H/T: WFNZ Radio)