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.
Copyright © 2003 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
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.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
More from this Issue
Read These Next
- TrendingChristian and Missionary Alliance Will Ordain WomenMinisters may now use the title “pastor” regardless of gender.
- From the MagazineWhen Politics Saved 25 Million LivesTwenty years ago, Republicans, Democrats, evangelicals, gay activists, and African leaders joined forces to combat AIDS. Will their legacy survive today’s partisanship?
- RelatedDon’t Pretend the Ugandan Homosexuality Law Is ChristianNot everything that’s a sin is a crime—let alone one punishable by death.简体中文繁體中文
- Editor's PickPCA’s 50th Anniversary Comes During a Season of GriefPresbyterians expect less fight and more fatigue as they gather following the Covenant shooting and the deaths of Harry Reeder and Tim Keller.