For Pastor Fred Caldwell, Jesus' parable of paying the vineyard workers (Matt. 20) was divine direction for integrating his black congregation in Shreveport, Louisiana. He gained international attention by offering whites $5 to attend Sunday services. "Jesus talked about a net that … gathered every kind," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Racism is living in these churches, and people think it's just going to go away. I'm using the $5 as fishing bait for whosoever will come." Most of the two dozen whites who began attending along with the 300 or so black congregants came for free. "I was glad to be invited," one of them told The Christian Science Monitor.
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Other articles on Fred Caldwell's efforts include:
Integration comes one church pew, and $5, at a time | About a dozen white folks came, most of them forgoing the controversial $5 that Bishop Fred Caldwell offers—from his own pocket—just for coming to Greenwood Acres Full Gospel Baptist Church—The Christian Science Monitor (Aug. 13, 2003)
Ministers weigh in on paying for church diversity | Not everyone agrees with Fred Caldwell's strategy of paying whites to attend his church—The Shreveport Times, La. (Aug. 10, 2003)
Some whites take offer to attend black church | Not all visitors wanted payment from minister—The Shreveport Times, La. (Aug. 4, 2003)
Pastor puts money where sermon is | A Baptist minister went "fishing for white folk" in Shreveport on Sunday morning, offering $5 per hour to Caucasians willing to cross the color line and attend his predominantly black church—The Times-Picayune, New Orleans (Aug. 3, 2003)
Church draws national attention | Paying white people to diversify congregation attracts media spotlight—The Shreveport Times, La. (Aug. 2, 2003)
Paid Parishioners | Preacher to Pay Whites to Attend His Predominantly Black Church—ABC News (Aug. 1, 2003)
Bishop: I'll pay white people to attend my church | Bishop Fred Caldwell of the Greenwood Acres Full Gospel Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, has a pretty radical idea to diversify the largely black congregation of his church.—CNN (Aug. 1, 2003)
La. black church will pay whites to attend—USA Today (July 30, 2003)
Church to pay white visitors | Official wants to increase diversity—The Shreveport Times, La. (July 30, 2003)
The Shreveport Times also has a photo gallery.
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