MEMPHIS, TN - Longtime church member Gary Hanker was asked to park two states away from the sanctuary at Second Baptist Church, being informed that regular attendees are not allowed to park within 400 miles of the property in case a visitor needs their space.
As Hanker pulled into the church, parking lot attendants recognized him as a faithful member, and so instantly used their little orange flags to wave him down the interstate to park at a Denny's in Louisiana.
"If you're one of our regular members, please park in the Denny's parking lot down in New Orleans, and ride our convenient tram to the main sanctuary," Pastor Jeremiah Richard said in a video on the church's website announcing the new parking policy. "It's one of the great benefits of being a faithful attendee: you get to make room for first-time guests by parking hundreds of miles from the building."
"You'll want to arrive a good 7 hours before the service," he added.
According to sources, the church offers free valet parking with refreshments and a complimentary car wash and detail for first-time visitors, with second and third time guests getting to use the main parking lot right near the church doors. After your third visit, you'd be asked to park in an adjacent lot leased from an adjoining business park, before you're finally relegated to the aforementioned Denny's parking lot.
"It's just one way we show the love of Christ to new visitors, while allowing longtime members to store up some treasure for themselves in heaven," Ricard added.
At publishing time, Hanker was asked to sit outside and watch the service through a small window, in order that first-time guests might sit in all the good spots.