A Seattle strip club known for prostitution, strippers and FBI stings is being transformed by church leaders into a Christian community center in an effort to expand their outreach ministry efforts.
Bethany Community Church is currently in the process of converting Sugars, the former strip club, into their central offices and making it a coffee shop as well, where they intend to serve the community year round.
"When we first entered the building it had a very dark feeling; smoke filled carpets, black painted ceilings and walls, and mirrors everywhere," Scott Sund, associate pastor at Bethany Community told The Christian Post. "Before we started demolition, we met on Easter weekend and prayed and sang in the space to usher in the new story God was going to write through this place. It's God's story, we just get to play a small part."
Sund, who leads the Bethany North church campus, says they initially were seeking a permanent location to move into as they currently meet in a gym for weekly services. Despite being an unconventional locale, taking over the strip club was the original idea of the church's children's director, Anna Guerrero, who serves kids that live in the neighborhood where the club is located.
Upon checking out the site, Sund says church leaders were not interested, especially since it is not large enough to host worship services. However, God kept putting the location in their hearts, he explains. Now, they are focused on "being the presence of Jesus" in the neighborhood.
"The location of the former strip club makes it a critical spot for mission in our community. It sits beside a high school and along one of the highest places of need in North King County. We want to be a church that serves the neighborhood and brings light to the city. This location is perfect for this purpose," said Sund.
Some of the services the community center will provide include tutoring and social events, which will help redeem the neighborhood's reputation since the area used to be a magnet for police activity.
Prior to the church signing a lease on the location, the club building was sold at auction to a Seattle-area family in 2011 but remained vacant and untouched. However, prior to that, the government had seized the property and forced it to close down in 2010.
Around that time, the Seattle police department was investigating the club's former adult-entertainment mogul owners, Frank Colacurcio, Sr., and Frank Colacurcio, Jr., who were found guilty of racketeering, money laundering, and promoting prostitution in the club.
Church officials hope to rebuild the locale's reputation from its shady past to serve a greater purpose.
Church volunteers have gutted out the location by getting rid of the red carpet and wall mirrors that defined the strip club's interior. Bethany Community anticipates the new community center will open in the fall.