Parking was at a premium at the Freedom Worship Center Sunday afternoon — and so were seats inside the church at 1941 Cassville Road Northwest in Cartersville.
"We've got 300 chairs in there and we've got more than 300 people in there," said Pastor Ronnie Richardson. "We've seen a lot of people are seeking God right now."
Indeed, some guests had to watch the worship service from the church's Freedom Hall annex, where it was livestreamed through social media.
And as to what drew the capacity crowd? A single Bible held in a plastic container ... albeit, one that some people claim is imbued with miraculous powers.
Representatives of Whitfield County-based His Name Is Flowing Oil — more commonly referenced as the Flowing Oil ministry — dropped by Bartow County over the weekend to showcase their world-famous "bleeding" Bible.
"They came out of Dalton about a year and a half ago," Richardson recounted the ministry's origins. "They started to have a prayer meeting in a prayer group and a manifestation of oil started to leak outside a Bible ... in that container is oil that is supernaturally coming out of that Bible and has been for a little over a year, a year and a half now."
According to the stewards of the Flowing Oil ministry, the Bible began secreting a clear, viscous fluid in late January 2017. Ever since then, they claim the Bible has continued to exude an oily substance. Citing James 5:14-15, they say the mysterious liquid — "the oil of His presence," they've deemed it — has divine healing properties.
Over the last year and a half, the ministry says it has given out more than 50,000 vials of the oil — which can now be ordered, for free, via their official website.
Representatives of the ministry have made dozens of visits to churches across the United States. So far this year, they've made rounds in Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The Bible even made an appearance north of the border at an event held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in April.
Freedom Worship Center Assistant Pastor Jonathan Goltz said it's only natural for people to be skeptical.
"People are coming in because of faith as well as doubt," the 36-year-old Taylorsville resident said. "People are spectators and they like to see things to know it's real instead of just simply believing."
Count 52-year-old Richardson among those who believe the purportedly oil-exuding Bible is the real deal.
"In Jesus' day when he walked the face of the earth, miracles took place and he was glorified and people were drawn to him," he said. "And this is another one of those signs, wonders and miracles that we're seeing here ... the Bible said signs, wonders and miracles follow those who believe, and Freedom Worship Center believes in a miracle-working God."
Other true believers drove hundreds of miles to bear witness to the "miraculous" object.
"There's people up there on that front row that's from New Jersey," Richardson said. "There's a couple in there that drove over from Florence, Alabama, and those are just the ones I know of right now."
Towards the end of the worship service, attendees received vials of oil scooped out of the supposedly sacrosanct container.
"People are hungry for God, it's that simple," Richardson said. "They're believing in God and they're looking for God and their faith is bounding. Right now, this manifestation that we see is a result of people's faith believing in an almighty God."
While large events like Sunday's worship service may fill the pews, on the whole Goltz said that church attendance throughout Bartow seems to be waning — to the point he described the phenomena as "the great falling away."
Still, he said the large turnout for the Flowing Oil ministry appearance gives him hope for the future.
"It's definitely been a blessing," he said. "I'm overwhelmed by the capacity of people who have came out to see and understand the things of God — it's pretty interesting."