Source: Elizabeth Dias / Time Magazine
Makeda Pennycooke, the church’s executive pastor of operations, sent an email to church volunteers asking that “only white people” greet worshippers at church services. The email said that leaders anticipated an increased number of visitors in the coming weeks, and that since “first impressions matter,” the church wants “the best of the best on the front doors.”
An outraged church member received the email and sent it to local news station WBTV. The controversy is complicated because Pennycooke is a black woman, while senior pastors Troy and Penny Maxwell are white. Nonetheless, the church’s request was hard to misinterpret. ”We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” Pennycooke wrote. ”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, a diverse church in north Charlotte, has already apologized for the incident. “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 wrote in a statement to WBTV. “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.”
Freedom House has four services every weekend. Five values drive its mission, according to the church website: “We are an equipping church (Ephesians 4:11-13); a relationally healthy church (Matthew 18:19-20); an excellent church (Daniel 6:3); a leadership church; and agenerous church (Proverbs 11:24-25).”
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