Nightclub Church in Sao Paulo's Red Light District Welcomes 'Sinners'

Inside a nightclub at 486 Augusta Street, in the red light district of São Paulo, a Christian service takes place every Sunday when the nightclub closes.

Clube Outs opens its doors on Saturdays at 3am to hoards of people with tattoos, wearing casual party clothes who are ready to dance to 1980’s and 90’s hits.

However, on Sunday at around 6 p.m. the club becomes “Capital Augusta” and a band of young people enter playing worship and praise songs.

During the event all Smirnoff and Heineken bottles remain untouchable.

After the band stops completes its round of praise songs, Junior Souza, 37, appears wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with an inequality symbol.

Souza, who has tattoos on his forearm and wears earrings, starts to preach and break only enough time for the “little contributions box” to be passed around and filled.

“Now we will take a break for a moment and we will continue with the service, okay guys?” He tells the congregation.

This is a service in Capital Augusta; a Protestant church founded by Souza, which is open to everyone.

The church began with a group of musicians, designers and the people who “already had a life in Augusta.”

The attendants of the church are mostly young people under 30-years-old who have felt discrimination against them in other churches.

Alcohol is not prohibited by Capital but it is preached that there must be moderation. Sex is also only after marriage but the church also accepts chastity as part of a process.

“The ideal project is chastity, but, if this is not your reality, we will take the path of restoration,” says the pastor.

Gays are also welcomed into the church, along with everyone else who “does not have a perfect life.”

“In Augusta those people [far from a perfect life] are expected to come. Our slogan is: ‘Perfect People Forbidden’,” the pastor explains.

Capital members also meet together during weekdays to share “happiness and frustrations of their lives living in São Paulo.”

Some people who hear about the church and its location view it suspiciously, but the believers who attend Capital do not allow those who look down on them worry them.

“[People ask] ‘What! You are going to Augusta, a place for sinners?’ But I say, in the end all of us are sinners”, stated Fernanda Stahelin, one of the attendants. “[The Church] accepts all kinds of people, even the ‘noisiest people.’”

In this way, many unorthodox churchgoers, including “noisy young people” are attracted to the church. “We don’t want lonely people to continue to be lonely,” the pastor added.

Souza indentifies himself as a Christian but does not like to be called evangelical as he alleges that the term itself has been trivialized in Brazil.

The church is maintained by 12 Capital leaders, and is located just a few meters from “Inferno Club,” which means “Hell Club” which is located at number 501 on the same street.

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