Guelph, Ontario, Canada is home to The Manor, a gentleman’s club, and now on Sundays, Jack and Sharon Ninaber’s Christian fellowship services. Easter Sunday was the inaugural service at the club.
The surprising association of religion and adult entertainment was a concept that began several months ago, as CTV News reports. “If you told me I would be doing this six months ago I would be like laughing at you and saying, ‘You’re out of your mind, that's crazy,’” said Jack Ninaber, a former pastor at local Grace Community Church.
Jack Ninaber told the Guelph Tribune last month, “It really all began when my wife and I made a point of wanting to drop off some grocery gift certificates to the people at Sue’s Inn.” A hotel attached to the strip club, Sue’s Inn has served as low-income transitional housing in recent years for the area’s homeless and those struggling with addictions. The Ninabers, Elora Road Christian Fellowship members, wanted to bring religion to those that may be uncomfortable in a traditional church setting. That desire, combined with the location of the people they hoped to reach, led the couple to inquire about using the bar at The Manor for services.
Getting approval from The Manor proved to be the simple part. The Ninabers had to contend with the city when, as CTV reports, their request to hold services at the business was first denied because “the club wasn’t zoned for a religious institution.” When Mr. Ninaber spoke to the city and explained that they wouldn’t be holding traditional church services but rather social gatherings, they were given the okay.
According to Jack Ninaber’s blog, the first Sunday gathering was to begin at 12:30 p.m. with free lunch to “be followed by a time of worship music, testimonies, the Gospel shared in creative ways and prayer ministry.”
Traces of the strip club are covered during the services but reaction is still split when it comes to the unorthodox location. Sharon Ninaber said, “Some people think we’re crazy. Some people think it’s really great.” Sam Cohen, owner of The Manor said, “Speaking to people in the adjacent areas and our tenants, they all thought it was a good idea. They normally don't go to church so they felt like if there was a service here they would probably show up.”
Reportedly half the tenants showed up on Easter, and the Ninabers hope that they will return each Sunday.