A small Haitian-American congregation in Palm Beach County, Fla., is remodeling a closed strip club and will begin to worship there in a few weeks thanks to the much-needed financial help it received from a megachurch.
A site in Boynton Beach where dancers allegedly engaged in sex and sold drugs will soon be a place of worship after Eglise Assemblee Evangelique de Christ finishes its renovation work. The strip club was closed after a police raid during Halloween in 2009.
While the congregation of about 250 Haitian-Americans bought the place for $600,000 last May, it didn't have sufficient funds to bring the work to completion until the Christ Fellowship megachurch in Palm Beach Gardens donated $12,000.
"Oh, Lord. I cannot explain it," The Palm Beach Post quoted Dumont Pierre, pastor of Eglise Assemblee, as saying. "For us, we consider this as a miracle." The largest check the church had received was for $250 from a local soft-drink distributor.
Pierre's congregation was earlier worshipping at a rented church building in Delray Beach, but it could not afford to pay $2,000 each month. The congregation contributed the money for the new site and its renovation but it still needed more to meet the requirements by city authorities.
Members have repainted the walls, pulled out the dancing poles and removed the old carpet that was still stinking of alcohol. "The place was very, very ugly," Pierre said. "As long as this place is in better use now, to help the community, to help young people – that will be enough."
Christ Fellowship learned about the financial struggles of Eglise Assemblee from a news story published by The Palm Beach Post last December. "We immediately knew we had to help them out," Christ Fellowship lead pastor Todd Mullins was quoted as saying. "We thought that was definitely worth cheering on."
The Boynton Beach community redevelopment association is happy. "Taking a tour of the new Evangelic Assembly of Christ Church, you'd never guess it used to be a strip club," it said in a statement. "We had a lot of problems with this place, drugs, prostitution," said Its Executive Director Vivian Brooks. "Those problems are what shutdown Platinum Showgirls in October of 2009. Dozens of arrests were made and the doors were closed, the building sat for two years, until pastor Dumont Pierre came along."
Mullins' megachurch is also in the process of buying a closed 126,000-square-foot Dillard's department store in Boynton Beach Mall and setting up a satellite worship center.