Makeda Pennycooke, one of the pastors at Freedom House Church, sent the email to volunteer greeters, who welcome newcomers at Sunday services. A member of the church, which has a racially diverse congregation, gave the email to WBTV.
"I was floored," Carmen Thomas told the television station. "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, Pennycooke said the church expected to have more visitors than usual in the next few weeks and said "first impressions matter."
"We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line," she added. "So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors."
The church in an emailed statement said Pennycooke was trying to emphasize Freedom House's racial diversity. It said she sent a follow-up email apologizing less than 24 hours after the first one.