While killing time on the Guelph Reddit page this morning, I found a post too bizarre to be believed. A man named Jack Ninaber - a pastor by trade, a dreamer by reputation - has announced on his blog that this spring he will begin a missionary initiative called "Church at the Manor." That's right, the place in the city's west end where you go to see naked woman dance naked for the crowd (or for you personally for a few bucks more) will be transformed into a place to hear the word of God every Sunday morning. Believe it or not, it might not be as crazy as you think.
"It started with the desire to give gift certificates to those living at the Inn which in turn led into a conversation about the possibility of renting the bar area to do church," Ninaber writes on a blog post dated February 26. His intended audience is the people saying at the Manor's adjoining hotel called Sue's Inn, which is home to a number of people who are trying to get clean and sober following issues with drugs and alcohol. (It was also a plot point in the documentary of the same name about The Manor.)
"After hearing our vision, permission was granted within minutes!" he continued. "Roger Cohen, the owner, has stated 'So let me get this right, you want to bring light into a very dark place.' Yes! We have been very forthcoming with him regarding our intent and purpose. He thinks we’re crazy, BUT has been amazingly open and receptive to the point of making sure that everyone knows when our services are going to start."
The first service at The Manor will be April 20 at 12:30 pm and will be followed by a free lunch with music, prayer and other staples of worship. I'm not sure if Ninaber picked the date intentionally, as April 20 is also known as 4/20, an internationally recognized day to celebrate all things cannabis, but then again.
Whatever the reasons, it's still an interesting maneuver for both Ninaber and Cohen. I know that there's a bit of a predicament regarding this, ahem, staple of Guelph night life: the location's not great, there isn't a lot of advertising opportunities locally, and the nature of the business doesn't exactly lend itself to profiles in the local Chamber of Commerce magazine, but between the halfway house, and the new church service, I think The Manor has a bright future as a community centre/strip club.