• From poles to church pews: Mission to transform Athens strip club

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    ATHENS, Ga. - One Athens church has a vision to convert stripper poles into church pews.

    For now, Athens Fantasy World and Chelsea’s Gentleman’s Club still looks like its former self, but it’s about to undergo a major transformation. The waterbeds and skimpy lingerie are gone, but the stripper poles and disco balls remain.

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    The club was once a well-known hangout on Baxter Street – and an alleged brothel. Now, a non-denominational church has bought the property.

    David and Mary Redman are two members of the church that so far only has about 50 regular parishioners.

    “Obviously it was a place for the sex industry,” Mary Redman said.

    Police say there were multiple arrests there over the years for prostitution, rape, drugs, stabbings and counterfeit bills.

    “Sometimes people get on paths and they maybe don’t even know why they’re doing what they’re doing,” Mary Redman said. 

    Now, the building is getting a new life as the future sanctuary of the church. 

    “We’re not here to judge anyone or to pass judgement on what happened here. Maybe it was a place where people came because they just didn’t know where else to go,” Mary Redman said.

    David Redman admits when he first walked inside and got a look at what was inside, he was a bit unnerved.

    “Somewhere between smiling and repulsiveness. There was a lot of interesting things in here,” David Redman said.

    The Redmans say the building is ideal not only for the space but for a part of the community that has seen some hard times.

    “If Jesus was going to be any place on Baxter Street, he would be here, ministering and bringing people to the light and healing and transformation,” David Redman said.

    The church members know it will take a lot of time and money to transform the building into a sanctuary. They are determined to do it, but they will need more than $1 million to finish the job. Follow this link if you’d like to help.

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