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Greer says she heard that Campos had secured a $250,000 award from the National Park Service for, again, the Ferdinand Magellan. Trouble is, Campos neglected to mention anything to Greer about that particular grant, which was awarded under the Save America's Treasures program. And all the correspondence for that award went to his office at the Hollywood Tri-Rail/Amtrak station.
"He was implying that he owned one of our cars and that it was going to go up there [to Hollywood] and getting all this money with our equipment," Greer says.
She says she has no idea what became of that money.
After that, Greer says, "I distanced myself from him every way I could."
Sometimes, hot tickets call for desperate measures. In Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, fans of Hannah Montana are shelling out as much as $3,000 per ticket to catch Hannah in concert. Locally, the going rate is more like $150 to $350 (judging by eBay) — hot enough to (gasp!) drive some people to church.
For anyone without a tween in the house, Hannah Montana is the lead character in a popular Disney TV show. She has to balance her secret life as a famous pop star with her everyday adventures as a normal girl. Hannah is played in real life by actress/singer Miley Cyrus, now pushing the ripe old age of 15.
"Hannah's a monster right now," says David Hughes, senior pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs. To lure worshipers, the church, which averages 3,000 attendees, is giving away two pairs of donated tickets to Hannah's November 20 show, which sold out faster than a desperate parent could dial a phone number and pull out a credit card. The bait seems to be working. Hughes says the number of first-time visitors to his church tripled October 26 and 27, the first weekend of the ticket giveaway.
During the service, visitors were asked to fill out a card to get in the running for the prize. Hughes planned to ambush the lucky recipient on a weekday morning. The idea is to knock on the winner's door, "Publishers Clearing House-style," complete with a video camera and possibly a TV news crew. "We're going to go early — catch 'em in their jammies!" Hughes said.
In keeping with the theme, Hughes says, his worship band plays Hannah's tune "Nobody's Perfect" to go along with a series of teachings called "No Perfect People Allowed."
"Church should be fun! We're sort of a nonreligious church," Hughes continues, explaining that he teaches a "Biblical common-sense Christianity" with an emphasis on developing a personal relationship with Jesus. "There's a minimum of judgment and condemnation and a lot of creativity."
Earlier this year, the Church by the Glades gave away $15 gift cards to the iTunes store; another week, it raffled off an iPhone. It's all an effort to keep the church culturally relevant, Hughes says. The 45-year-old pastor used to be an actor and a model (working mostly in television commercials), and he has an obvious flair for theatrics. "I'm the only pastor with a SAG [Screen Actors' Guild] card," he laughs. A few weeks ago, he says, to illustrate the Bible teaching that faith without works is dead, he had some parishioners dress up as pallbearers. They carried a casket — which Hughes jumped out of Lazarus-like.
Such extreme measures have been the topic of debate on sites like www.ChurchMarketingSucks.com. Hughes does not apologize for the gimmicks. "The point of view of the church has been absent from the cultural dialogue," he explains. "We're coming up with creative ways to begin the conversation. You can't have a conversation until you engage people."
Hughes says that he has received a few complaints from conservatives, who say his methods amount to bribery. "We never mean to offend anyone. But you know, Jesus was controversial. Some people loved him and were willing to die for him. Others feared him and wanted to kill him. That's an example I'm not afraid to follow."