WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Neighbors are voicing mounting concerns after Mt. Juliet police shut down Old Lebanon Dirt Road twice over the weekend due to the large amounts of pedestrians leaving a large church event.
Police told News 2, “Due to no communication from the event organizers, our department is having to react to the situation.”
The police department noted the event was not on city property, but traffic from the event did come on to city roads; crowds of roughly 2,000 people elected to walk down the two-way road instead of waiting on shuttles for a ride to their car.
Neighbors estimated several thousand people attended an event at Global Vision Bible Church over the weekend. Griff Akins lives in the area and recalled being diverted Saturday night by police.
“They said it was because Greg Locke’s Global Vision people were walking in the roads going back to the parking. So instead of walking on the side of the road, they were walking on the road, and they felt that that was a hazard, so they shut the road down completely,” Akins said.
Akins said the alternate way took him an extra 20 minutes to get home, and said local authorities previously told residents they would be able to get through.
Kylie Blackett started a petition to create a noise ordinance in the area in response to church events held outside. She also had concerns on the event held over the weekend, advertised on the church’s social media account as a “National Deliverance Training Conference.”
“There are no sidewalks. There’s no shoulders; the drop off in some of the areas are very steep,” Blackett explained.
Akins and Blackett said they would like to see large church gatherings moved to the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
“This is a residential area that has approximately 8,500 people in it, and so that’s how many people are affected…It’s not safely equipped to handle and accommodate that many people, and it’s also not fair to the neighbors to have to hear that amount of people and deal with the increased traffic and not be able to get to our homes.”
Akins said he’s tried to raise his concerns with city and county officials, as well as the church’s lead pastor, to no avail.
“This isn’t about his religion or what he’s saying. He can say whatever crazy stuff he wants. Just don’t interrupt our lives, making our lives miserable. That’s an ungodly thing to do. He’s not being a good neighbor and that’s what Christ commands, and I don’t get that,” Akins said.
News 2 left a message for Global Vision Bible Church’s communications team Sunday, but did not hear back before this story was published.