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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tallahassee reverend: The governor's in the house



On this Sunday before MLK Day, Gov. Rick Scott attended services at the Flipper Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located on the edge of FAMU in Tallahassee. Scott walked into the tiny chapel with his wife, Ann, just before the 11 a.m. services began and signed a few autographs before taking a third-row seat. As the (awesome) 17-member choir sang, Scott clapped and tapped his foot (he was wearing black cowboy boots with his suit). Rev. Oliver Simmons -- who told the 100 or so congregants that Jesus "ain't your dog but he's got your back" -- a few times addressed Scott from the pulpit, telling him leaders are always targets for critics. "Governor, I don't envy you one bit," he said. Rev. Simmons also said he saw a few church members sending texts, figuring they were telling friends, "The governor's in the house."

And Simmons told Scott he's welcome to join the African-American church, noting "That would be a first." Simmons said he believes it's the first time the church's 80-plus-year history that a governor attended services there. "We're just blessed today," he said. 

After the services, Scott hung around for awhile, posing for pictures with church members. Mrs. Scott said she and the governor plan to visit different churches in Tallahassee and around the state.  

[Last modified: Sunday, January 16, 2011 1:27pm]


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