The locally popular Alaskan strip club, Fantasies, was once the designated nightlife spot for the locals of Anchorage. Now the once jumping club has miraculously been transformed and converted into the Open Door Baptist Church.
The club's doors were forced closed after various issues arose from unpaid wages owed to workers to problems with maintaining a proper liquor license. Seemingly, the final stake in the coffin was the looming and current Covid-19 pandemic. The strip club was then permanently closed that is until it was sold to real estate developer, Linda Dunegan.
In the early 1980s, Dunegan's parents divorced and friends of her mothers encouraged her to move and find work in Anchorage possibly as a bartender or waitress. However, Dunegan's mother quickly found that there was more to be made in the strip clubs. In order to provide for her daughter Dunegan's mother began working the late shift.
This seemingly left Linda to her own devices. Disheveled and unkempt, Dunegan was approached by a woman of one of the churches they attended for the free post church meals they offered. “I was dirty, unsightly, and she took me to Sears. She bought me three dresses,” Dunegan said. That one woman's kindness was the catalyst that pushed Linda into the faith.
"My mother was a stripper," Dunegan told Alaska's News Source. "And all that she had to do to feed a little girl, that's very bothersome to me."Dunegan says she's unclear whether her mother ever worked at Fantasies.
"So that inspired me to take something that was used for darkness to turn into light, to serve the community and Open Door Baptist Church is that light in the community," she added.
Dunegan initially tried to purchase the building from the previous owner with her husband Gerry but was unable to do so because they were not able to come to an agreement with the previous owner. Sure enough the owner finally came to terms with the fact that Fantasies doors would not be reopening again and sold the property to Dunegan. The real estate developer adds that she believes her prayers were answered when it came to her acquisition of the property. “This church came about because I prayed for five years,” she said.
According to ABC News reports, Seventy-six people showed up for the grand opening, some to see what a church inside a former strip club looks like. And now the church averages about 45 parishioners every Sunday.
Check out this tweet of photos taken during the reconstruction phase of Open Door Baptist Church taken by Justin Lehman, who assisted in the reconstruction. Also below are photos of the new church parish.
I really enjoyed the missions trip to Alaska! We worked on the new building, knocked on many doors, and fellowshipped with the core group of people who are looking to be apart of establishing Open Door Baptist Church of Anchorage with my good friend, Pastor Kenny Menendez. pic.twitter.com/yS3FXSUIYn— Justin Lehman (@Justinlehman87) September 26, 2020
We love a story of reformation and rebirth. This story is one that started secular and somewhat peculiar in nature but has a pretty wonderful ending if I do say so myself. Dunegan's story goes to show you that your full circle moment within the faith may be right around the corner. The question is are you a believer that God can be found anywhere? This story definitely serves to show that the may just stand true. Comment your thoughts down below.
Written By Precious Onukwuli