“If they have a car show, they will be fined,” said Fayette County Administrator Steve Rapson Thursday.
Flat Creek Baptist Church plans to have the car show on its parking lots, most out of sight of the main road in front of the church, Flat Creek Trail. Among those showing prized vehicles on the church property is Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb.
The entire community has been invited to the outreach event Saturday, June 3.
Meanwhile, with the written permission of the Fayette County Zoning Department, rapper Rick Ross will proceed with his paid admission car show at the former Evander Holyfield mansion in north Fayette. That same zoning permission for the church was denied last month.
Ross held his car show last year with county permission. Officials let him have the event without placing any restrictions on him. The church held a car show last year without asking for county permission. Neighbors around the Ross mansion complained about traffic congestion at last year’s show, and it got the county’s attention for this year. There were no complaints filed about last year’s church car show, but a county marshal saw the church putting up a sign for this year’s show and told them they had to get a permit.
“Questions are swirling around about the car show since Mr. [Rick] Ross has got his permission,” said Josh Saefkow, pastor of Flat Creek Baptist Church in his May 28 sermon to the congregation of several hundred in the sanctuary of the 197-year-old church just northeast of Peachtree City. “What about our craft and car show at the Creek? What about our outreach to the community?”
Both Fayette County Commission Chairman Lee Hearn and Commissioner Eric Maxwell have apologized to him, Saefkow told the congregation. The two wanted to approve the church car show but were outvoted by commissioners Charles Oddo, Edge Gibbons and Charles Rousseau, Saefkow said. “[Hearn and Maxwell] both fought for you, Flat Creek,” the pastor said.
“This is not persecution,” Saefkow told the congregation. “This is bullying … bullying at its finest. It’s clear to me that some of our public servants have gotten a little too big for their britches.”
The pastor continued, “We never asked for permission to do evangelism. Christian obedience may mean civil disobedience. Let me remind you why we are having a car and craft show: this community is full of broken, lost sinners who are in need of God’s mercy and grace … [and we want] to build a connection with our neighbors who need us.”
“That’s why I say to Mr. Rick Ross — you are invited to our car show. County commissioners, you are invited here. Our desire is to wash the feet of those who serve us. I don’t care if you are the biggest critic we have in this community. We’re inviting you to Jesus.”
Meanwhile, northeast of the 20-acre church campus, a varied show with an individual ticket price north of $200 will include over $300,000 in prize giveaways with awards for best car, best bike, hustler of the year and best hot rod, according to vibe.com.
“It’s going down at the Promise Land, it’s like a party, it’s like a barbecue. It’s not going down at one of them spots where everybody got on a mask, it’s like the Olympics. Rose gold — not silver, but white gold,” Rick Ross said on social media.
Ross-rented buses will take attendees from off-site parking lots to Ross’s mansion and back. At least two dozen off-duty officers will provide security and traffic direction.
Rapper Diddy plans to fly in on his personal jet to attend the show, he said on Instagram.
So if the church is ticketed for a zoning violation by the county marshals, what happens next? The ticketed person must show up in person before Fayette State Court Judge Jason Thompson, who will make the determination whether county zoning language will make a church’s evangelistic and community outreach efforts an illegal venture.
Off stage, the county has begun plans to rewrite the county’s A-R zoning ordinance to do away with a list of things you cannot do in that zone, Rapson said Thursday.