White greeters only: In a call made by a black pastor of a North Carolina church this week, Makeda Pennycooke sent out an email asking for only white greeters to welcome possible parishioners into the church in order to make the “best impression.” Such an email has now sparked an apology from leaders; the church in question, Freedom House, has been brought to the public spotlight today after one angry churchgoer forwarded the email asking for only white volunteers to a local news station, TIME shares this Tuesday, Sept. 3.
A white greeters only message may sound controversial in itself, but it becomes an even more complex issue when the pastor of operations who sent out the call for white people to act as "the best of the best on the front doors” is in fact a black woman. The email was sent to several dozens of church volunteers, saying that it would be better to have fewer greeters at the door if that few would best represent the church, only after asking that more white congregation goers were wanted.
”We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” Pennycooke stated in the email to church volunteers, aimed toward new parishioners. ”We would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means that the few that we have will represent us the best.”
One member of Freedom House was so insulted and angry at the email that she sent it to a Charlotte news station to spread the news. Since then, an apology was swiftly provided by the church itself, adding that they were simply looking for more racial diversity in their congregation members, rather than asking for just white greeters or to make a “best impression” with them.
“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.”
After Pennycooke’s call for white greeters only to stand at the church door and subsequent criticism from parishioners and the public at large, Freedom House church offered this apology statement:
“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.”