Clutch Cargo's returns to religious roots

Clutch Cargo's returns to religious roots

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PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- A southeastern Michigan church building that spent several years as a nightclub reopened on Easter Sunday as a house of worship.

It took $1 million and months of work to transform the former Clutch Cargo's nightclub in Pontiac into the new home of Greater Grace Fellowship Church. The 30,000-square-foot, four-story church seats about 750.

"There was a wrecking crew in here and we did this in four months ... but we have been dreaming about this and preparing for it for years," said the Rev. Kent W. Clark.

Christians across the denominational spectrum filled Michigan's churches on Sunday to observe the holiday that celebrates the story of Jesus's return from the dead. In Detroit, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, the leader of 1.3 million area Catholics, performed an Easter vigil for hundreds who attended the historic Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The new home of Greater Grace Fellowship was dedicated in 1962 as home of First Congregational Church of Pontiac. The congregation sold the Gothic-style building in 1997 to investors who renovated it and made it The Sanctum nightclub. It was sold in 1999 and later reopened as Clutch Cargo's.

"This is a gift from God," Clark said. "We firmly believe that."

Clark said he has big plans for the new church building.

"This place will stay busy every day of the week, not just Sunday mornings," he said.

Greater Grace Fellowship operates a mission to needy people, but space constraints have limited its capacity in the past, Clark said. He said that last year, it turned away 7,700 people seeking help, something that shouldn't happen anymore.

"It's a great victory," he said.

Linda Atkins was a member of the previous church when declining membership forced the congregation to sell the building.

"That hurt us. We felt really bad," the woman from Oakland County's White Lake Township said during a tour of the building three weeks before its reopening.

She said she was pleased to see the transformation.

"It feels like a church again," said Atkins. "This is a resurrection."
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