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Fact check: What's 'Sunday service' at SXSW, and does it have to do with Kanye West?

Even before the pandemic, surprise celebrity appearances at South by Southwest had cooled significantly from days when Doritos tried to book Lady Gaga to perform in a giant vending machine in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant. (Mother Monster played Stubb's and gave a keynote interview that year, 2014.

But social media rumors began swirling over the weekend that Kanye West, aka Ye, is planning to bring his famous (and infamous) Sunday Service to Austin's Republic Square Park during the March festival. 

More:Special event permit applications for Austin's SXSW are down by nearly 50% this year

The Twitter account @sxrumors on Friday posted a screenshot that appeared to show a permit application for a "SXSW Sunday Morning Service." Sunday Service is the name of a recurring series of highly curated gospel gatherings organized by West, part church service and part performance.

Kanye West performs with the Reagan High School Marching Band at the former Seaholm Power Plant during South by Southwest in 2011. Rumors that he is planning to bring his Sunday Service to the festival this year surfaced over the weekend.

The Dirty Team, a SXSW-tracking group run by When Where What Austin, noted on Instagram that the Chicago rapper has a new release coming out on Feb. 22. They also pointed out that not one, but two artists with whom West has been feuding — frequent collaborator Kid Cudi (aka Scott Mescudi) and "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson (seen here canoodling with West's ex, Kim Kardashian) — have film projects premiering at the festival this spring. Mescudi stars in "X" and Davidson stars in "Bodies Bodies Bodies."

On top of that, West is no stranger to the annual Austin music festival.

Is the "Jesus Is King" artist planning to slip into SXSW to try to suck the wind out of his rivals' sails with Sunday sermonizing?

The American-Statesman reached out to the city and asked about the rumored event. On Monday, Tara Long from the Austin Center for Events confirmed that the city has received a permit application for a Sunday church service at Republic Square Park. She added that the application is still under review and that city staff are "working with the organizer to understand the scope of their plans."

More:Austin music venue the Parish to reopen at former North Door space

"Based on the information we have thus far, there is no indication that Kanye West will be part of the proposed service," Long said via email. 

The verdict: As of now, the rumors cannot be confirmed. We'll keep an eye out for further developments.