From a strip club to a church in the Bronx

Matt Kozar has the story.
February 26, 2014 3:44:14 PM PST
An ambitious pastor looking to find a permanent home for his flock in the Bronx may have found it in a former strip club.

"I'd love to keep one pole, just to be reminded of where we came from," Pastor Reggie Stutzman of Real Life said.

Pastor Stutzman is coming from the hunts point rec center.

He's been holding mass here for the last four years, while providing community outreach, food to the homeless and medical supplies to an underserved community.

"The other day I saw the "For Sale" sign go up on the Platinum Pleasures, and ironically we've been praying about that building for the last few years," he said.

So Pastor Stutzman called the strip club's owner and took a tour, envisioning poetic redemption: A pulpit replacing the bar. Pews for stripper poles. Sermons for lap dances. Even marriage ceremonies at a place that likely broke up a few.

"To me it's kind of rough. You hear gun shots a lot. Somebody's always mugging somebody. They got drug traffic," resident Cecily Peterson said.

Peterson lives in the area and says hunts point needs a church.

Residents say the club tucked under the Bruckner Expressway in an industrial corner of the Bronx has been a perpetual problem spot.

Platinum Pleasures ultimately lost its liquor license leading to its closure.

"We could get into his lease, which is a 3-5 year lease for probably around $500,000 to $600,000," Pastor Stutzman said.

That's a lot of cash for a small church, but Pastor Stutzman is trying to raise the money by taking his cause to social media to get the word out.