Alligator Finds Its Way to Church, Welcomed by Pastor

A pastor in Florida filmed himself inviting an alligator into his church after the creature was spotted wandering close to the building.

Daniel Gregory, the pastor at Victory Church in Lehigh Acres, Florida, filmed himself walking up to a four-foot alligator after it crawled out of a storm drain next to the place of worship, according to NBC affiliate WBBH.

In a video of the interaction filmed by Gregory, the pastor said: "He's coming to church, get ready and I'm gonna do what I probably shouldn't do and go take a selfie with it.

"He came to our church. I don't know what his spiritual condition is. I need to invite this gator to church."

He then said: "We have services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday mornings," as he took out a business card and offered it to the alligator, before asking the animal: "Want to check us out?"

Writing about the incident in a Facebook post accompanying the WBBH report, Gregory wrote: "This is hilarious! No one will ever be able to take me seriously again," and added: "We obviously welcome anyone and anything."

However, Adam Brown of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told WBBH that the agency does not recommend that people get as close to alligators as Gregory did.

"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 said. "There's no reason to take a chance."

Gregory, who urged others not to "follow my example," said the alligator left the church area and went back into the storm drain after he attempted to baptize it.

In June, another alligator was spotted in an unusual location in Florida, after a customer entered a post office to see a seven-foot gator lying on the ground in the building's lobby.

The woman, who entered the building in Spring Hill at 3:30 a.m., was unharmed in the incident, and local trappers later relocated the alligator.

There have been reports of several sightings of alligators in Florida over the last two months, but attacks on humans are rare.

According to figures by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the highest number of bites in a single year is 16, reported in 2001. There were 12 attacks on humans in 2020, but none of them proved fatal.

Newsweek has contacted Victory Church and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for comment.

Alligator invited into church by pastor
File photo of an American alligator in a swamp in south Florida. A pastor in Florida filmed himself inviting an alligator into his church after the creature was spotted wandering close to the building. williamhc/iStock / Getty Images Plus