WELLSBURG - Instead of going to church Sunday, members of Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church will be manning the pumps at five gas stations and picking up the tab for their customers.
Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. that morning church members will pay for the cost of gasoline for customers at Maloney's Exxon and the Smith Oil and Mobile stations in Wellsburg and the Follansbee Sunoco and Kwik King stations in a move intended only to spread the Christian message, said Bryce Grieco, the church's pastor.
Grieco said the church will pay for a set amount of gasoline based on the number of pumps at each station, and the station's owners have agreed to lower the gasoline's price during those hours in light of the free labor provided by the church.
Grieco said the hours were chosen because they coincide with many churches' worship hours and the church's goal is to encourage those who don't attend church to do so in a no-pressure way.
"We're not promoting our church. We're just saying, 'God loves you. Why not find a church?' We're really serious about getting out the message of God to everyone," he said.
Grieco expects to involve about 100 volunteers in the effort. Children in the church will be participating in a program there instead.
He said local police have been advised of the event in case of news of it leads to heavier traffic near the stations.
Grieco said the practice, known as a "gas buy-down," has been done by churches elsewhere in the country.