The congregation at Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina has a few bones to pick with their pastor, Makeda Pennycooke. Pennycooke sent an email asking that “only white people” stand at the front door to greet the congregation. 

Apparently Pennycooke was trying to get some diversity at the front door, but the congregation isn’t buying it.

From WBTV:

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.

In a statement to WBTV a spokeswoman for the church confirms the email was sent out by Pastor Pennycooke, which reiterated that the pastor was attempting to have the greeters reflect diversity of the entire congregation. “However, she admitted it was a mistake to overemphasize any specific group and sent an apology email within 24 hours of the original email going out.”

A letter of apology was issued to “some” of the congregation from Pennycook and other senior pastors.  The spokesperson also emphasised the church’s commitment to diversity.  “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.”

But failed to mention it’s commitment to using tact.

WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

  • bayoulady

    How can we expect others to perceive us as equals when we don’t perceive ourselves as equals? This type of self-hate is astounding and just so sad.

  • vintage3000

    God help me, my first thought when seeing your site today was Sheryl Underwood looking at this pastor and saying damn, that’s some nappy a__ hair.

    I need to stop reading these stories but they are self hate train wrecks, hard to look away.

  • Starla

    If you can’t find equality in church then I don’t know where you will find it. Seems like pastor Pennycooke is concerned about keeping her pennies rolling in.

  • Marisa

    Between this one the no weave pastor I Can’t I Won’t I’m Not with these people how are you as a Pastor essentially saying your own people are beneath whites. That’s a church that wouldn’t have me as a member that’s for sure because, I’m not beneath anybody and won’t be treated like that especially by a person of the cloth who is also my race.

  • cjl

    I just have no words for stupidity like this.

  • Anthony

    It’s great that Pennycooke loves Jesus, but she might want to learn to love herself too.

  • copelli

    “the best of the best”…..“So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors”……

    Yeah. I think this Pastor’s mentality and attitude about her own people is quite clear.

  • paintgurl40

    this pastor is more concerned with the green than the black or even white. you cannot love money and the LORD at the same time.

  • IJusWannaSay…

    SMH @ some of these delusional Black christians…

  • geenababe

    What is going on with these pastors now days?

  • noirluv45

    Let me guess. There’s a huge picture of a White Jesus in the vestibule.

  • apple

    i’ve heard of foreign businesses using white people to pretend they own the company (initially until they make it) so that people will be more likely to buy/franchise with them.

  • MommieDearest


  • MommieDearest

    She needs Jesus.

  • Kriss

    This is just one of MANY problems with the concept of black people as die hard Christians in the first place. A religion forced down your throats while you were in chains and you swear by it like it is your oxygen. I think it is sad. All other cultures practice religions born form those cultures. We practice a religion that the white slave master forced on us. Sad.

  • VM

    My family and I attended Freedom House Church from Fall 2007 – April of 2008 and witnessesed this attituted on a regular basis. The African American presence in the church was growing however none in leadership – the Pastor constantly made jokes and comments about “black” people that we found offensive however it was something he said during a sermon in April of 2008 regarding then Senator Obama’s run for the presidency that did it for me. My family left and have been attending Friendship Missionary Baptist Church ever since. I refuse to raise my 4 children in a church that believes that “we” as “black” people are not worth of leadership and should submit to white people.

  • dirtychai

    How dare this woman try to devalue the Black worship experience? The Black church is one of the few places that we have to be authentically ourselves — without the curious/critical/mocking glare of the White gaze.
    Many of these pastors, Black and White, need to come to grips with the fact that they will never be Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, or all these other folks that they see on TV. The reason that so many White pastors have diverse congregations in comparison to Black pastors, is that Black people are more accustomed to sitting under White authority and Whites are not jumping to have a Black figurehead advising them on how to live their lives.

  • Rev MJ Lewis

    Wow. It shouldn’t matter what color you are in worship. Did not Christ come to erase those lines? I am a black associate pastor that serves along side a white pastor and I have never had that mindset. I know literally hundreds of people who are white and sit under black pastors and love them dearly. It is because the have a right heart and spirit with God. Genuine salvation sees beyond color of the skin and realizes that when this life is over and we open our eyes in heaven we will worship among every kindred, nation, and tongue.

  • GeekMommaRants

    Christianity teaches whites to hate their bodies and blacks to hate themselves. My grandmother said this often. Truer words are rarely spoken

  • FYI

    This comes from her issues with herself not Christianity. Just b/c someone who calls themselves a Christian does something wrong doesn’t mean that’s there’s a problem with the religion itself or all the black people who practice it.

    And it’s a misconception that Christianity is “the White man’s religion. A lot of the Bible takes place in Africa. There were 3 African popes in the early days. The white-washing of Christianity started during the slave trade by whites to justify doing things they knew were wrong.

    it’s factually incorrect to think that All black Christians follow the religion b/c it was “forced down their throats.” Many people have studied religion and find that it’s something they believe in. And I’m sure most ppl can figure out that the religion itself isn’t tainted b/c some misused it.

  • Ang28

    @rev mj Lewis

    Agreed! I go to a predominately black church with a black founder/pastor but we have a lot of white members as well. People who are serious about their faith and comfortable in who they are don’t care about the race of “the figure head” of the church. It’s about what you get out of it spiritually.

    And I’m authentically me no matter where I am.

Latest Stories

Sexism Causes Inequality, Not A Woman’s Lack Of Confidence


The President & Vice President Took The Best Selfie Ever


Arrest Warrant Issued For ‘RHOA’ Star Porsha Williams


College Board to Revamp Vocab Section of SAT

More in church, diversity, Freedom House Church, Makeda Pennycooke
brown emojis half
Upset About The Lack Of Diversity Of Your Apple Emojis? There’s A Petition For That

The Resurgence of Black Women on Television: Will It Last?