RALEIGH — St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church is preparing for “Bakker Mania.” Since the LGBT and allied congregation announced that Jay Bakker, son of PTL Club founders Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Bakker-Messner, would speak at their church on Sept. 28, the response has been so great that worship leaders have decided to move the event to another venue to accommodate the expected crowd.

The church has contracted for the use of Broughton High School’s auditorium, located at the corner of Peace and St. Mary’s Streets. In previous years, St. John’s 11 a.m. Pride Sunday service has drawn 100-125 people to the 175-person sanctuary. With Bakker’s appearance, attendance is expected to swell well beyond capacity. Broughton’s Auditorium seats 450 and can also accommodate the media.

“We want to do everything possible so that everyone is comfortable and every person who comes is able to hear Jay speak,” said Mike Gauss, event coordinator for St. John’s MCC.

Bakker, who was raised in Charlotte, pastors New York City’s Revolution Church and is quickly becoming an influential figure among liberal and younger Christians. He is LGBT affirming to the point of supporting same-sex marriage and has worked closely with Soulforce.

“Jay’s message of God’s unconditional love for all people is desperately needed today,” said St. John’s Senior Pastor Rev. Belva Y. Boone. “People are being hurt daily by hateful words and actions, to the point that the legislators of North Carolina attempted passing anti-bullying legislation, an action I personally applaud.”

In addition to speaking at the Sept. 28, 11 a.m. service, Bakker will participate in events in the Triangle the day before, Saturday, Sept. 27, as part of the annual NC Pride Fest celebration.

Pride Fest organizers have invited Bakker to participate in the interfaith service that opens the festival, held each year on Duke University’s East Campus. He will march with St. John’s MCC members in the Pride parade.

Saturday evening from 6-7 p.m in Raleigh, there will be an open-to-the-public reception for Bakker at The View, part of the Legends Nightclub complex, located at the corner of Hargett and Harrington Streets.

After the Sunday morning service, St. John’s will host a complimentary friendship and fellowship lunch on the church grounds at 805 Glenwood Avenue, just a few blocks from Broughton High School.

The weekend will close with Bakker speaking at the church’s 7 p.m. Sunday service in the sanctuary.

info: www.stjohnsmcc.org