A once popular strip club in Anchorage, Alaska, has been converted into a church by the daughter of a former exotic dancer.
The Anchorage Daily News reports “Linda Dunegan believes divine intervention played a hand in transforming the building that housed Fantasies on 5th into the start-up Open Door Baptist Church, turning the show floor into a sanctuary and trading the dancer’s pole with a pulpit.”
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“This church came about because I prayed for five years,” Dunegan told the paper. “God has been very good to me,” she added, “to give me a family, a wonderful husband, food on the table, a place to live.”
Dunegan’s mom had moved to anchorage to work as a waitress in a bar, but quickly discovered there was more money to be made stripping. Her mother worked in several different clubs, but she is not sure if Fantasies on 5th was one of them.
The paper explained that :Dunegan’s path to devout Christian took root when she was a child in America and a woman at one of the churches they attended ostensibly for the free food decided to take her under her wing.”
“I was dirty, unsightly, and she took me to Sears. She bought me three dresses,” Dunegan said. “I work to pay that back today.”
The church was flooded with 76 people who came to the grand opening to see what it was like going to a church inside a former strip club. They now average about 45 people each Sunday.
“I would say God is pleased to have a change, a transformation in the building, a place that really ultimately points more people towards him instead of away,” Pastor Kenny Menendez said.
He hopes that the church will be found by those who need it, as it sits between a marijuana store, a sex shop and downtrodden motels.
“One would hope that, yes, this is the beginning of just putting some light right here,” he said.
Read more about the church here.