(Photo: Screen Grab via WBTV)
Pastor Makeda Pennycooke's church has issued an apology for her making a policy that "only white people" should be greeters at the front of the church.
Pastor Pennycooke, an African American, who is executive pastor at Freedom House in Charlotte, N.C., sparked controversy recently when she sent out an email to church volunteers explaining that "only white people" should be greeters at the front of the church.
Her email went on to explain that her policy was being implemented in an effort to "bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line."
However, her request quickly sparked the scorn of some parishioners; one of whom made the email public, resulting in widespread condemnation of the policy, with many labeling it racist.
One congregant who has attended and served at the church for years, Carmen Thomas, expressed her shock at the request.
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."
Following the strong backlash, Freedom House has since issued an apology: "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," read a statement sent to WBTV Channel 3 in Charlotte.
The statement went on: "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."
Church officials also told WBTV: "The pastors have been meeting with staff and church members to confirm their commitment to diversity and to ensure nothing like this happens again.
"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."
Pastor Makeda Pennycooke's congregants also quickly rallied to defend the church, describing it as "ethnically diverse" and "welcoming."
On commenter on the WBTV website posted: "FH is the most ethnically diverse church I've seen in Charlotte, and the most welcoming."