A Methodist church in Birmingham has been experiencing an unlikely stream of visitors due to the success of new augmented reality game Pokemon Go.
While the game hasn’t officially launched in the UK yet, keen gamers have been getting hold of the game, which involves players in travelling around in the real world looking to capture and train Pokemon creatures, who then battle against each other.
Part of the game involves using Google Maps on a smartphone, and taking photos of Pokemon creatures via the phone’s camera, in real life settings.
One of these has provided to be Birmingham’s City Road Methodist Church, which has been designated one of the game’s Poke Gyms.
Church members discovered a main his thirties sitting on the front steps glued to his phone. On enquiring if he was OK, he told them the church was a Poke-Stop, a key location in the game.
Since then a regular stream of players have come to the church in their cars, playing the game.
Puzzled church members have offered refreshments to them, and have put up posters next to signs advertising its 11am Sunday services which read "Pokemon Go Gym, you are welcome - Jesus Cares About Pokemon Gamers".
Church warden David Hallam, admitted: "God does work in mysterious ways". He explained the church more often welcomed homeless people with a warm cup of tea, a hot shower and a roof above their heads, but was now adapting to become a gaming landmark.
He local media: "The game hasn't even been launched yet and we've already had people ringing up, asking where we're located, what time we're opening, cars stopping outside, sitting there playing the game.
"On Sunday morning we came here and we had somebody sitting on the doorstep for two hours.
"We couldn't coax him into the church, we said 'come and have a cup of tea, come and worship with us', but he was too busy and he said 'you don't know what's going on in there (the church) at the moment'.
It was only when Mr Hallam and minister the Rev Dr Paul Beetham Googled the game that they realised they were set to be caught up in a worldwide phenomenon.
Mr Hallam added: "So, we're going to have young people - we beg young people to come to church - and now they're going to start coming to church.
"We're really quite excited.
"We've put a notice outside acknowledging the fact we're a Poke Stop, we're a Poke Gym and we know what you're here for.
"And then we'll see what happens, see if there's any needs, see if we can build up and show the love of Jesus to them in some way."
Mr Hallam said it was "a great opportunity" to spread a Christian message to people who might not usually walk through the doors of a church.
Need a quick guide to the game? Go here.
The Church of England has put together some useful tips and advice for churches that are gyms or Pokestops here.
And you'll find some handy posters which you can add your own words to here ...
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