A building that once housed one of the oldest gay bars in Ohio has been purchased by a Christian ministry for the sole purpose of turning the building into a new prayer and worship center.
Bretz, a nightclub that catered to Toledo's LGBT community for three decades, closed its doors in December and will be the future site of the Greater Toledo House of Prayer.
The Christian organization purchased the Adams Street property through a third party, City Councilman Nick Komives confirmed in an interview with WNWO last week.
The news of the church's purchase hasn't sat well with some in Toledo's LGBT community who are suspicious about why the Christian group would choose to acquire the former gay club.
"A number of people reached out to me because they felt insulted or upset that the church would choose that location to make their purchase and move into on Adams Street," Komives told the news outlet. "There are a number of other options that they feel were available and they didn't pursue. I think everybody is more curious about what their intent is with the space, and I think that is a reasonable question to ask."
Although some within the LGBT community voiced their displeasure on social media by calling the Christian group "anti-LGBT" and a "cult," the property purchase was praised by Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values, Ohio's Family Policy Council.
"It's too easy today for Christians to huddle up in our churches and segregate ourselves from the world. Yet that's not what we're called to do," Baer told The Christian Post in an email. "The Greater Toledo House of Prayer is living out the Gospel by relocating to what was one of Ohio's oldest gay bars. This is a story of God's redeeming work and of a group of people on mission to share God's love and Good News with all members of their community."
Last Friday, the Greater Toledo House of Prayer issued a news release, refuting false claims that the church was involved in the nightclub's closure.
"GTHOP is a prayer and worship ministry, where individuals and worship teams commit to maintaining a climate of worship and prayer in the Toledo community," the statement reads. "For a number of years, GTHOP has operated in a rented facility in downtown Toledo. Due to an increased need for space, GTHOP started a search for a new facility. In October 2017, the ministry became aware that the Adams St. building was available for sale, then toured the building and determined the space would work well for the group.
"GTHOP was informed by the owner of Bretz that over the past three years, efforts were made to sell the business and keep the nightclub open," the statement continued. "However, negotiations with interested parties never materialized into a sale of the business, leading the bar owner to make the decision to close the establishment. Knowing this, the property owner eventually decided to sell the real estate."
The Greater Toledo House of Prayer, which initially formed in 2004, holds a traditional Christian stance on LGBT issues.
According to the organization's statement of faith on sexuality, marriage and gender, the values of biblical Christianity "oppose and prohibit living in, practicing, condoning, or supporting sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, gender identity different than the birth sex chromosomal level, pornography, or other sexual immorality."
According to the Toledo Blade, the Greater Toledo House of Prayer purchased the 2012 Adams Street building for the price of $148,000.