CHARLOTTE, NC (WUSA9) - A volunteer at a North Carolina church was surprised to receive an email from her pastor asking that "only white people" stand at the front door to greet the congregation.
Carmen Thomas, who has served at the church in north Charlotte for several years, sent the email to WBTV. She told the TV station she was appalled by the email from Freedom House Church Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, an African-American woman. WBTV reports that the email "was sent to a group of church volunteers who act as greeters for the church's 9 a.m. service."
Thomas told WBTV, "I was floored... 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."
WBTV reports that the email reminds volunteers that fall is a busy time of the year for the church. Citing the importance of first impressions, the pastor says the church wants "the best of the best on the front doors."
The pastor added, "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."
Thomas said she knews what Pastor Pennycooke meant by that statement: "Too black. It wasn't a conclusion that I drew. It was something I read."
The pastor goes on to say she knows it's a "sensitive situation" but that "We would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means that the few that we have will represent us the best."
Thomas says she feels race isn't the only issue at the church. "Perhaps you believe that with a certain congregation that eventually your finances are going to run out because maybe we aren't the moneymakers," she told WBTV.
A spokeswoman for the church confirmed the email was sent by Pastor Pennycooke and released the following statement:
"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. 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."