Controversy has sparked at a north Charlotte church after a pastor sent an email asking that "only white people" stand at the front door to greet the congregation.
A viewer contacted WBTV after getting an email from Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, an African-American woman, at Freedom House Church along Salome Church Road.
The email was sent to a group of church volunteers who act as greeters for the church's 9 a.m. service.
Carmen Thomas, who has attended and served at the church for the past two years, sent us the email. She was appalled.
"I was floored," she recalled. "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."
In the email, Pastor Pennycooke reminds volunteers that fall is one of the busiest times of year for the church.
"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks," Pastor Pennycooke says in the email.
She then says that "first impressions matter" and says 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," she continued in the email. "So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors."
Thomas told WBTV she knew exactly what Pastor Pennycooke meant by that statement.
"Too black," she said. "It wasn't a conclusion that I drew. It was something I read."
Pennycooke then acknowledges the request is a "sensitive situation" and said quality trumps quantity.
"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 wrote.
Thomas also told us that she's been an active and engaged member of the church for more than two years. She feels race isn't the only issue but also the church's bottom line.
"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 said.
WBTV contacted the Freedom House Church about the email and a spokeswoman for the church confirms the email was sent out by Pastor Pennycooke.
"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 statement sent to WBTV read. "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."
The viewer told WBTV a letter of apology was issued to some people from Pastor Pennycooke and Senior Pastors Troy and Penny Maxwell.
"The pastors have been meeting with staff and church members to confirm their commitment to diversity and to ensure nothing like this happens again," church officials told WBTV. "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."
Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:41 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:41:33 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A 20-year-old man has been accused of shooting a dog to death in Horry County. Cortez Sherman is accused of driving up into a yard on Adrian Highway with another person. TheyMore >>
A 20-year-old man was arrested after shooting a dog to death in Horry County, police said.
Cortez Sherman has been charged with pointing and presenting firearms at a person, two counts of cruelty to children and ill treatment of animals, according to jail records.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:04 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:04:45 GMT
DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) – The death of a 56-year-old woman found on Saturday has been ruled a homicide, according to Darlington County Coroner J Todd Hardee. Dorothy Bumgarner, of Darlington, was foundMore >>
The death of a 56-year-old woman found on Saturday has been ruled a homicide, according to Darlington County Coroner J Todd Hardee.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:21 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:21:40 GMT
MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Georgetown County investigators are asking for the public's help in locating a stolen Harley Davidson motorcycle. On Thursday, July 17, at around 9:40 p.m., deputies were notifiedMore >>
Georgetown County investigators are asking for the public's help in locating a stolen Harley Davidson motorcycle.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:15 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:15:58 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Join the Grand Strand Technology Council for TOUR OF ICE Creative - Trade Show Express. This event will allow spectators to view concerts, corporate events, sports events, tradeMore >>
Join the Grand Strand Technology Council for TOUR OF ICE Creative - Trade Show Express.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:48 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:48:17 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Tuesday local cab drivers turned out to discuss the car service UBER with the Myrtle Beach City Council. During the meeting Charles Moore, with Diamond Cab, spoke for the group.More >>
Cab drivers in Myrtle Beach voiced their concerns on the car service UBER operating throughout the city on Tuesday.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:34 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:34:21 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The WMBF First Alert weather team is tracking the second tropical system of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Tropical Depression #2 had max winds ofMore >>
The WMBF First Alert weather team is tracking the second tropical system of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:28 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:28:09 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - First it was a movie theatre, then a night club, children's theatre and music venue, soon it will be a safe spot where your kids can hang out. On the outside you probably recognizeMore >>
First it was a movie theatre, then a night club, children's theatre and music venue, soon it will be a safe spot where your kids can hang out. On the outside you probably recognize the well-known Rivoli Theatre, but with one step through the door, you can see big changes are underway.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:28 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:28:05 GMT
DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Ladies get ready to serve. The Darlington High School Girls Tennis Team are holding open tryouts. The tryouts are schedules for August 4-5 from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Bill Cain TennisMore >>
Ladies get ready to serve. The Darlington High School Girls Tennis Team are holding open tryouts.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 8:22 PM EDT2014-07-23 00:22:03 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Less than a mile from Gaza, Myrtle Beach firefighter Bret Holland responded to rocket fires in a country caught in the middle of conflict. He is part of the Emergency VolunteerMore >>
Less than a mile from Gaza, Myrtle Beach firefighter Brett Holland responded to rocket fires in a country caught in the middle of conflict.More >>
Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:14 PM EDT2014-07-22 22:14:35 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Nearly 150 days every year on the Grand Strand, ball players from across the country strap on their batting gloves, warm up in the on-deck circle, and step up to the plate. MyrtleMore >>
Nearly 150 days every year on the Grand Strand, ball players from across the country strap on their batting gloves, warm up in the on-deck circle, and step up to the plate.More >>