White greeters only: That’s the message being sent by a North Carolina pastor who has insisted that only white people man the front doors of her church to greet her parishioners. The small sampling of incredulous racism has ignited a firestorm of controversy, reports NBC affiliate WMBF News on Sept. 3.
Church Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, who herself is an African-American, sent an email to her volunteers with directions as to how, or more specifically, who could greet individuals as they enter the Freedom House Church in Charlotte.
In the incredulous email, Pennycooke wrote that "first impressions matter" and said the church wants "the best of the best on the front doors."
"We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line," the pastor wrote. "So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors."
The pastor goes on to cite an anticipated increase in the number of walk-ins, and that she wants "quality" over "quantity" when it comes to the greeters stationed at the entrance.
"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks. We would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means that the few that we have will represent us the best," Pastor Pennycooke goes on to say.
A church spokeswoman was left to do some immediate backpedaling. The church issued a statement, saying the email was “an attempt to emphasize that our greeting team reflect the racial diversity of our entire congregation.”
The church statement went on to admit that “it was a mistake to over-emphasize any specific group and [the church] sent an apology e-mail within 24 hours of the original email going out.”
The apology may be too little, too late. A church environment sanctioning this type of gross discrimination underscores an appalling lack of moral or scriptural teachings.
Longtime worshiper Carmen Thomas, who has attended and served at the Freedom House for a number of years, said she was “floored” at the request made in the email.
“It was a jaw dropper," Thomas said. "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 going to see Asians. You're going to see people of color."
Perhaps the church should think about its “Freedom” House name and contemplate the Bible’s teaching of impartiality.
What are your thoughts? Is this act an indiscretion that can be overlooked, or inexcusable? Sound off below.