A Mississippi church decided to implement a prank of presidential proportions by bringing in a George W. Bush impersonator -- a man who successfully tricked parishioners and journalists into thinking that the nation's 43rd president was truly in their presence.
In the days leading up to Sunday evening's event, Bethlehem Community Church in Laurel, Miss., advertised that a "special guest" would be attending service, promising on its Facebook page that the individual would offer "an experience like no other."
Then, they dropped an April Fools' surprise a few days early.
Image source: Bethlehem Community Church's Facebook page
That special guest was Bush impersonator John Morgan, who spoke to the church, sang and played the guitar. He was apparently so convincing that many people -- including a local newspaper editor -- believed he was actually the former president.
The Laurel Leader-Call, a local newspaper, published a picture of Morgan online, proclaiming that Bush had visited the church. Newspaper owner Jim Cegielski later said that Morgan had both the editor and a reporter convinced he was the real thing.
The paper later issued a correction.
"He certainly fooled us, until the guy admitted that he was an impersonator," Cegielski said.
While some found the stunt comical, others weren't so happy. A woman named Deborah Crawford posted a rebuke on the the Clarion-Ledger's Facebook page, writing, "Lying church! Remind me to never go there!"
But Pastor Jamie Altman praised the event as the churches largest ever, noting that "people were packed out" and that intrigue drove most of the attendance. The event was apparently an evangelism tool that helped attract people to Bethlehem Community Church.
"Whatever you can do to get people to listen to the word, I'm all for it," Altman said following the event.
Featured image via WEWS-TV