Anybody’s welcome: Florida pastor invites alligator to church

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — Pastors are ready and willing to welcome new members to their congregations. A Florida pastor may have gone a little too far, inviting an alligator that wandered nearby his church on Tuesday.

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“No one will ever be able to take me seriously again,” Daniel Gregory, the pastor at Victory Church in Lehigh Acres, wrote in a Facebook post.

The reptile’s attempt at salvation occurred after the 4-foot gator crawled out of a nearby storm drain and walked up to the church, WBBH reported.

“One of the day care workers came in and was like, ‘There’s a gator,’” Gregory told the television station. “I was like, ‘Funny.’”

No joke. And Gregory said he could not resist the chance to take a selfie with the alligator and even offer his business card in case the animal decided to attend services.

“He’s coming to church, get ready,” Gregory said in a video. “And I’m gonna do what I probably shouldn’t do and go take a selfie with it.”

“Definitely a Florida thing to do, you know,” Ximena Villasis told WBBH.

“He came to our church. I don’t know what his spiritual condition is,” Gregory said. “I need to invite this gator to church.

“We have services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday mornings,” said Gregory in a video where he is seen handing a business card to the gator. “Want to check us out?”

It’s a funny video, but wildlife officials were not joining in the laughter.

Adam Brown of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it was not worth the risk to interact with an alligator, no matter what the reptile’s size might be.

“We certainly encourage the viewing aspect of it, but we never want you to approach a wild animal like that. It can be very dangerous,” Brown told WBBH. “There’s no reason to take a chance.”

Gregory admitted his actions were reckless, particularly when he attempted to baptize the alligator. The gator fled the scene and went back into the storm drain.

“Don’t follow my example,” he told WBBH.

That’s gospel, brother.