A Kearney, Mo., church offered to pay more for a building permit after the city sent them an ominous bill for $666.
Although Brett Toole, pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, which received the bill, and officials in the buildings section at Kearney's City Hall discussed the matter in a lighthearted exchange, the bill was later changed to a less ominous $667 and Pastor Toole used the opportunity to discuss the significance of the number "666" in biblical lore.
"…We made the application for the building permit and then we got an e-mail with an attachment saying we received the permit…the bill was attached to the permit and the bill came out to be $666. I thought it was funny. I don't know how everybody else would have reacted," said Toole in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Toole explained that around the same time he was responding to the city requesting to pay more in jest to avoid the traditionally dreaded number, the city was also reaching out to apologize for the total.
"The city developer was sending an e-mail to me saying 'sorry about the number. I reworked it two or three times to see if maybe it could be rounded up or down and it came out just exactly 666'," said Toole. "And as he was sending that to me, I was sending one to him saying, 'hey, can we pay an extra dollar and get off that number? We just kind of had a good laugh over it," said Toole.
In the end, it turned out that Toole didn't even have to pay the city one cent. A policy exists in Kearney that allows the city to waive building permit fees of churches if the waiver is requested. The Crossroads Community Church requested the waiver of the $666 bill and Toole said he was surprised the city officials played along with his concern about the number.
"…We were present when the mayor and city leaders waived our bill of $667," said Toole. "We were all kind of having fun with it."
He said the editor of a local paper eventually called him about the bill and asked him what the joke was about the number 666 and he used the opportunity to discuss biblical numerology.
"That's not a good number for anybody but especially for a church. I just told him what the number meant," said Toole. "For me, part of the benefit about this notoriety, I guess, is that it becomes a teaching point. And you can tell people who don't get the joke what the significance of 666 is," he said.
He noted that the building permit was requested for a small project at the church to build some additional classrooms. Aside from some snow and rain that have stalled the work in some parts, he says everything is currently going well and they expect to finish the project in 2 to 3 months, accident free.