- Sputnik International, 1920
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Soul Above Flesh: Once Popular Strip Club in Alaska Converts Into Baptist Church

Church cross - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.07.2021
The electricity was out when the pastor and congregation first arrived, but cellphone flashlights revealed black and red carpeting, booth seating, private showrooms, poles, a catwalk, a stage, and massive bar tables and chairs among the Halloween decorations still on display after the club closed abruptly a few years ago.
Thanks to the daughter of a former exotic dancer, a prominent strip club that previously tempted tourists off the main highway going into Anchorage is now a church for soul redemption, rather than the temptation of a mortal body.
According to the AP report on the event, Linda Dunegan thinks that it was indeed divine intervention at work when the building that once housed Fantasies on Fifth was transformed into the start-up Open Door Baptist Church, with the show floor transformed into a sanctuary and the dancer's pole replaced with a pulpit.
"This church came about because I prayed for five years," Dunegan, who was born in Vietnam and arrived in the US in 1975, said.
In the early 1980s, she and her mother came to Anchorage, where her mother first went to work as a waitress and then moved to exotic dancing in various bars to make ends meet. According to the report, Dunegan is not sure if her mother danced in the club, the building of which Dunegan, a real estate agent, tried for so long to acquire as a church.
She explained that she had attempted to purchase the building previously but had to abandon her efforts when she and the owner couldn't come to an agreement. The owner then gave a real estate agent a week to sell the building and advised the agent to contact Dunegan, and that's how the former site of debauchery became a future church, according to AP.
Another hero of this divine story is Pastor Kenny Menendez, who reportedly said God told him he needed to create a new church in Anchorage.
"I looked at it as, ‘Yeah, it could be a church,’" Menendez is quoted in the report as saying. "It just needed a facelift." 
By "facelift" he apparently meant work like turning a private lap dance club into a youth ministry. Nevertheless, the pastor reportedly feels that God approves of their efforts.
"I would say God is pleased to have a change, a transformation in the building, a place that really ultimately points more people towards him instead of away," he stated.
At the same time, Menendez thinks that the church, which is sandwiched between a marijuana dispensary, a sex shop, and run-down motels, will help to revitalize the community.
​The church, which will celebrate its first anniversary in October, is not the only organization that benefits from the three-story structure, according to the report. 
Dunegan reportedly plans to utilize the second floor for fundraisers and as a reception venue, while the third floor will serve as the headquarters for her Children's Benefit Foundation.
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