A North Carolina church is under fire after an email from its executive pastor, who is black, asking that "only white people" greet worshippers leaked this week.
Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, of Freedom House Church in Charlotte, sent out the message to advise church volunteers about the upcoming busy fall season. "First impressions matter," wrote Pennycooke, an African American woman.
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"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks," the email said. "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… We would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means that the few that we have will represent us the best."
The email's seemingly racist nature offended churchgoers.
"I was floored," parishioner Carmen Thomas, who received the email, told WBTV.com.
"Like it was a jaw dropper. 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."
After the email message went public, Freedom House Church released a statement and said it had sent apologies to the church community.
"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," the statement read. "However, [Pennycooke] admitted it was a mistake to over-emphasize any specific group. She admits this was a grave lapse in judgment and is sincerely sorry for her actions."
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