White greeters only: Having white greeters described as the “best of the best”, as stated in an email made from Freedom House Church in North Carolina this week, has spurred a major controversy, leaving many wondering if Freedom House is indeed a “free” church. When black pastor of operations Makeda Pennycooke sent an email to dozens of church volunteers encouraging “only white people” to serve as greeters, and there was immediate backlash soon afterwards, TIME Swampland reports this Tuesday, Sept. 3.
In her “white greeters only” email, the pastor noted that the church leaders were hoping for more visitors to see Freedom House in the next few weeks, and due to first impressions making a big difference, having the church’s “best of the best on the front doors” was a necessity.
Yet one church member was furious at the email, stating the email insinuated white parishioners and greeters were somehow better than black or other parishioners, and sent it to a local news station to air the story. The controversy surrounded the issue was thrown into greater contention as Makeda Pennycooke is a longstanding member of Freedom House, and what’s more, is a black woman, while the senior pastors of the church are white. Yet the request itself asking for white greeters only is hard to deny, and seemingly racist in many aspects, said the report.
”We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” Pennycooke wrote the church email, asking to present the image of the best of the best. ”We would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means that the few that we have will represent us the best.”
Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, has already said sorry for the email and controversy surrounding the email.
“The email was sent by one of our longtime pastors in an attempt to emphasize that our greeting team reflect the racial diversity of our entire congregation,” a church spokesperson noted. “However, she admitted it was a mistake to over-emphasize any specific group and sent an apology email within 24 hours of the original email going out.”
Below is the entire statement and subsequent apology from Freedom House Church following the public backlash:
“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.”
What are your thoughts on the alleged “white greeters only” story? Was it indeed a case of racism or a simple extension of reaching out to racial diversity?