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Understanding begins end of rivalry between church, strip club

Warsaw, Ohio – from — Two adversaries, who both say they don’t want to be, perhaps took the first steps in ending a four-year war Sunday.

As New Beginnings Ministries of Warsaw let out of services Pastor Bill Dunfee stepped up to Thomas George, owner of the Foxhole strip club in nearby Newcastle, and shook his hand.

Both are figureheads in a dispute that has become much bigger than them and much bigger than their establishments within the past week because of widespread media exposure.

As outside forces conspired to bring them together, it was a long morning with no one knowing what it was going to bring at the start.

9:15 a.m.

Dunfee exits his office and crosses a dirt path to the church next door to teach Sunday School.

Since news of the feud between the church and club became nationwide, Dunfee said his phone has been ringing off the hook with supporters.

“It’s very encouraging to know the body of Christ is standing with us and offering their support any way they can,” he said.

About four years ago, members of the church started going to the Foxhole on weekend nights to talk with patrons as they entered. They also took video and photographs of license plates and posted them on a now defunct website.

Recently, dancers of the club turned to the Bible verse about an eye for an eye and now sit in front of the church every Sunday morning while worship services are conducted inside.

“It goes above and beyond just dancers. The dancers are the victims in a strip club. This establishment in New Castle is not only destroying community and marriages, it’s destroying the lives of these young ladies,” Dunfee said.

Dunfee said a heated exchange Friday with his group and two men outside the Foxhole brought deputies from the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office to the club at about 1 a.m.

Ohio Revised Code does not permit a sexually oriented business to operate after midnight, unless it has a liquor license, which the Foxhole does not. Coshocton County Sheriff Tim Rogers previously said his office cannot enforce the violation until a court case on a similar situation is settled.

“If there is a court order that says they cannot enforce the law or a judge has instructed them not to enforce the law, I want to see the court order,” Dunfee said. “Otherwise I will not back off the phone calls. I will not back off the e-mails. I will not back off the pressure.”

9:45 a.m.

A few vehicles with music blaring pull up and park at Warsaw Lumber across from the church. About 15 people set up folding chairs at the intersection of Railroad and Church streets. Everyone has signs, some with Bible verses and some asking to be left alone.

Not all present are dancers as family and friends also have come out to pledge their support.

“I think it’s wrong what these people and church are doing. They’re judging people and that’s talked against in the Bible,” George’s friend Amanda Barber, of Mansfield, said. “These women are trying to support their families and make themselves better by having a job and contributing to society. If it’s what makes these girls happy, then let them. It’s their constitutional right to do what they want with their bodies.”

10 a.m.

George emerges from the Warsaw Lumber parking lot and sits in a folding chair to have breakfast consisting of sausage gravy and biscuits from McDonald’s.

George echoes Dunfee in saying his phone too has been ringing non-stop since last Monday with supporters from across the country.

“I’ve gotten support from many, many people that feel the same way. They feel (the church) has gone to far,” George said. “(Dunfee) has made this a personal matter and I don’t feel it is a personal matter.”

10:10 a.m.

The dancers run to meet two women as they exit their car. Hugs and hellos are exchanged. At first glance one easily could mistake the statuesque blonde and petite brunette with their jeans and neat makeup as fellow dancers, but they’re actually there to spread the gospel.

Sheri Brown represents JC Girls of San Diego, and Anny Donewald is from Grand Rapids, Mich., with Eve’s Angels. Both are ministries that specifically go into strip clubs and preach to the girls there. The pair are familiar with each other and decided to team up to visit the dancers of the Foxhole after hearing of the story.

The women also met New Beginnings members and were asked to speak during worship services to give their personal stories. Brown and Donewald invite the dancers to come in to hear them. Many said they want to but are scared to enter the church.

Donewald said when she started entering strip clubs and preaching the gospel it was with fear and not faith.

“I was like ‘you’ve got to get out of here. God loves you so much and you’ve got to get out of here.’ It was bad,” she said. “It’s not our job to tell these girls it’s time to get out of there. It’s our job to tell them that Jesus loves them.”

A few others also appear to greet the protesters, including Dave Daubenmire, of Hebron. Daubenmire shakes each girl’s hand and asks their names. He makes sure to repeat the names so he doesn’t forget them.

Daubenmire, a pastor and former football coach, is known for his signature ball cap with a cross on it. He decided to leave it home Sunday, thinking a “neon sign” of his faith wasn’t what was needed.

“I’m not here to tell them their lifestyle is going to lead them to hell. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to ask them ‘how can I help you? How can I help you to find a dignified lifestyle,'” Daubenmire said. “They certainly know this isn’t a dignified lifestyle. When they were little babies laying in the cradle, they know their mom and dad didn’t pick them up and say ‘gee, I hope she’s a stripper.'”

10:30 a.m.

More than 50 church members take their seats in the sanctuary for a half hour of prayer, song and arms raised high in praise. Dunfee then speaks briefly on how he met Donewald and Brown before turning the floor over to them.

Donewald confesses to having been a stripper and prostitute until Jesus Christ came into her life and she decided not to have an abortion. Brown never has been an exotic dancer and, in fact, said she once hated them with a passion. Through her job as a social worker, she was given clients who were strippers. She found they had a lot in common as she and many of her clients were teen mothers and had been molested.

As they gave their testimonials to the congregation, voices could be heard shouting “Amen” and “go on.”

“Just love (the dancers), just let the Holy Spirit draw them out. Let Jesus draw them out, and then he gets all the glory instead of us,” Donewald said to the group.


Church doors open and the congregation leaves. Many march straight to their cars with their heads down, but many more go over to where the dancers are and do something they haven’t done before. They introduce themselves.

Church member Amanda Johnson is a hair stylist and gave free haircuts to children in the community Saturday for the church’s annual back-to-school event. She extends the same service to the dancers and any of their children. She tells them all they can call her anytime day or night and not just for a snip and a dye job.

“God put me in my place today, and he’s given me a mission. He’s made it very clear what my mission is and now to go. My mission is these ladies,” Johnson said.


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