- (Photo: First Presbyterian Church of Eustis Facebook)
A Florida pastor got a tattoo of his church's emblem after promising his congregants he would do so if they broke the church's attendance record on Easter Sunday.
The Rev. Leon Bloder of First Presbyterian Church in Eustis, Fla., agreed to have his church's emblem tattooed on his leg after some 850 people showed up for Easter Sunday services, which was nearly double the church's usual weekend attendance of 450.
The pastor's new tattoo, which he received Thursday, includes a large black cross on his left calf. He told the local WKMG-TV that he chose to uphold his promise of getting the tattoo to show his commitment to God and the gospel.
"That's how committed I am to getting them excited about their church and what we're doing," Bloder said. "Hopefully, it'll rub off a little bit. I don't expect them to all go get tattoos, but at least they'll know that their pastor is willing to go all out. So, that's cool."
Bloder also promised to have his long hair, that goes down to his shoulders, cut if his congregation broke their attendance record on Easter Sunday. The pastor said in a press release in early April that this promise received a cheer from the more traditional members of his congregation.
The pastor previously told the Local 6 Orlando station that he started the bet to encourage unchurched members to attend his masses. "I wanted my church members to be more focused on inviting people to church this Easter," Bloder said.
"We do church differently at First Presbyterian. I know that if unchurched people experience our joyful worship services, along with the incredible ministries and mission that we are doing in our community, they might change their minds about church and church people."
Bloder also offered to pay for anyone's tattoo if they chose to have the church emblem inked on their skin.
Earlier this year, another Florida pastor from Mount Dora promised congregants he would pay for their tattoos should they get the blue-and-green church emblem inked on their skin. To his surprise, over 40 members of his church took him up on the offer and had the The Cross Mount Dora's Church symbol tattooed on their body. Pastor Zach Zehnder said he was ultimately surprised but pleased by the dedication of his congregants.
"Every tattoo has a story. The landscape of faith has struggled to keep up with the times. So if we can create a way to start a conversation, it doesn't get better than that," the pastor told My Fox Orlando.