Anti-LGBT Christian Group Buys Gay Club And Turns It Into A Church

The Greater Toledo House of Prayer's new home has been a queer institution for 30 years.

A Christian group has bought one of Ohio’s oldest gay clubs and plans to turn it into its new house of worship.

Earlier this month, the Greater Toledo House of Prayer purchased the former Bretz’s Nightclub on Adams Street, which closed suddenly before Christmas. According to the ministry’s board, the group had outgrown a rented office space downtown and was looking for a larger home.

On its website, the House of Prayer opposes “living in, practicing, condoning, or supporting sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, gender identity different than the birth sex… pornography, or other sexual immorality.”

Local activists worry about the loss of such a mainstay of the LGBT community, but the ministry denies was involved in Bretz’s closing. It also balks at depictions of it as a hate group.

“GTHOP is a prayer and worship ministry, where individuals and worship teams commit to maintaining a climate of worship and prayer in the Toledo community,” the board said in a statement.

Bretz was opened by Greg Knott in 1987, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Knott put all his energy into the club, which wanted it to feel like home—even hosting Thanksgiving and Easter dinners for people not welcomed by their families.

“This place was built from the ground up to serve the gay community,” Steve Witker, an employee for 20 years, told the Toledo City Paper. “[Greg’s] view was that it wasn’t just a bar—it was a community resource.”

Knott sold Bretz to its last owner, Michelle Woda, shortly after the club’s 20th anniversary in 2007. (He passed away in 2010.) Woda had reportedly been trying to sell it for three years but, with no prospects, decided to shutter it. Knowing that, says GTHOP, the property owner decided to sell the building, as well.

House of Prayer purchased the space on January 3, 2018, for $148,000.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.