Jamie Anderson, executive pastor at Liberty Church in Gulf Breeze, said until last week he hadn’t even heard of “Pokemon Go.” Maybe he had heard his members talking about it before then, but he didn’t fully quite grasp what it was.
GULF BREEZE — Jamie Anderson, executive pastor at Liberty Church in Gulf Breeze, said until last week he hadn’t even heard of “Pokemon Go.” Maybe he had heard his members talking about it before then, but he didn’t fully quite grasp what it was.
Then, last Tuesday, a resident from the area posted on the “Concerned Citizens of Navarre” Facebook group that someone “with the church” had told the man, who earlier had been hunting for Pokemon, that he needed to leave their property. But Anderson said that attitude just doesn’t reflect their church.
“We’d never want people to not come on the property,” he said. “Anything we can do to encourage people to come and attend. We are known to be super friendly.”
Anderson said he took the time to investigate what happened and to reply to the man in the Facebook group. He said it was a member of the church who had told the man to leave and that the man is welcome to come back.
“We work hard to show we are welcoming,” Anderson said. “I don’t want people to think we are running them off. Our purpose is to communicate God’s love.”
Anderson said he also took steps to advertise that the church was a Poke Stop by placing the Pokemon logo on their LED board.
“We did it to encourage people back on our property,” he said. “If that’s what you are into, go for it. We are mindful.”
Sgt. Rich Aloy, public information officer with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, said players should be mindful as well. People call the police thinking that players are suspicious people trespassing, but when officers arrive to the scene, it’s just kids on their phones.
“We are not going to stop them,” Aloy said. “If it’s late, we tell them go home for safety reasons. Don’t go where it’s private property.”
Aloy said if residents have any concern, reach out to their office.
“Just give us a call,” he said. “We’ll check it out.”
Since the incident, the Facebook post and the logo on church’s LED sign have been removed.
Anderson said he has seen an increase of hunters around the church, both members and nonmembers, but he isn’t worried about safety,
“Sure there will be more traffic.” Anderson said. “It’s not a danger or detriment We are happy for people to come through.
“Can we put (a Pokemon) on the chair in the sanctuary?” Anderson added with a chuckle.
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