From Dance Hall to Church

Building has had many transformations

Photos by Joan Ashley Redeeming Grace Outreach Center is now in the building designed as a dance hall and evolved into grocery/sandwich shop, into a restaurant, to a strip joint into a community church.

BRANDYWINE — From dance hall to pork palace, from strip joint to Christian church. What tales these gray walls could tell!

This plain clapboard building at 12590 Blue Gray Trail (US33) was built by Roy Pope to be a community dance hall in the 1930s.

“It had neon lights all around and a stage in the back for the country band. It later started serving food and drink,” said Buck Joseph, who with his wife, Joanne, later owned the building as a restaurant renowned for its homebaked pies.

Roy Propst, 83, remembers learning to dance there.

“Me and Charlie Harman spun so fast, we almost fell down,” he said.

From left to right, Pastors Scott Combs, disciplinary leader; Jason Lee Boggs, founder of church; and Joe Embleton, leader of the AAAANA Community Support Ministry; are behind the pulpit featuring a cross made of new copper pennies, fashioned by the church children to symbolize ‘He paid the price.’

Dancing didn’t go over so well in a rural community.

“People didn’t use it very much,” Joseph said, so it was sold to Charlie Heiser, then to Wes Eye, then to Joseph, who made it a restaurant before building the cabin further down the road and selling the building to Dave Snyder.

Navy Petty Officer Mark Robinson lived behind Snyder’s when he first came to the town in 1988.

“He had two booths for burgers. There’s never been such a good hamburger made in any place, and there hasn’t been one since! He made a real burger not just passing along a dry bun and thin meat patty like so many other places,” Robinson said.

The building was bought by Wayne Holloway’s daughter, Melanie, and opened as Fat Boys. The pork palace was a very popular restaurant, especially busy on Sundays when folks left church to eat out.

The Tree painting at the church features leaves made of hand prints of church children.

The Holloways sold to Pancakes, Biscuits, and More, LLC, also doing business as the Golden Angels Cabaret.

“When it opened we all thought it was going to be a breakfast place and then a sign went up with a reclining woman on it advertising the Golden Angels Cabaret,” said Chad Adams.

Travis Bolton, who swears he did not frequent the place, said it had a stage in the back where girls could dance and a jacuzzi on the side.

The Pendleton County Commission, citing an ordinance prohibiting a business offering “exotic entertainment” being located within 2,500 feet of a private residence and an apartment building, delayed the immediate opening of the business, listed at the time as owned by Robin Shifflett of Harrisonburg.

The cabaret, described as a “gentleman’s club” advertised BYOB (bring your own bottle) on its sign which exceeded a 10-foot height limitation and contained a female silhouette and consumption of alcohol, other no-nos in the ordinance, which was passed in an “effort to promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the citizens of Pendleton County.”

The business went through court hearings and finally faltered.

“One problem,” Jim Helmick, who has since deceased, said at the time, “was you had to park out front. In a small town everybody knew who drove what, and who was inside being naughty.”

The building is now a nondenominational church known as Redeeming Grace Outreach Worship Center, pastored by Jason Lee Boggs with Associate Pastors Scott Combs, the discipleship leader, and Joe Embleton, head of the AAANA community support group.

Boggs believes a church is not a building, but a community center.

“The people are the church – a building can pass away, but not the people. We truly believe that – whether a food pantry, addiction program or clothing ministry…. We share the love of God through our actions to help our neighbors.

“I heard from God in my spirit to make this an outreach center, rented-to-buy the building and did the renovations with help from the community. We opened in 2018 on Easter Sunday having finished the renovations at 5 a.m. and began preaching at 10 a.m. I was up 24 hours that day,” Pastor Boggs said.

“Anything that needs doing we do for people. We have more than 100 in our congregation. We’re on-line in just about every state. We’ve also had followers visit from India, South Africa, Brazil,” he added.

Boggs was formerly a gang member and into drugs. At 15 he was jailed in Charleston for three felonies.

“I found God in jail. Brother Blake showed me the key was Jesus Christ, who came to my heart and told me to preach.” Boggs started preaching on Dec. 8, 2005 and was ordained as a pastor at age 16.

“God wanted me to have an outreach. In two years we have had 103 people give their heart to Jesus,” Boggs said.

Combs added, “We like to think of church as the perfect place for imperfect people. A hospital is for the physically sick. Church is for the spiritually and even physically sick.”

“All pastors and evangelists are invited to come and worship with us. We usually have one or two a month from other congregations come to preach with us,” Boggs said.

Embleton added, “Our door is open. We’re non-denominational. Anybody can come.”

Worship service is on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The community clothing closet is open on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. The Recovery Support Program is on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. Women’s Bible Study is on Thursdays at 6 p.m. A Discipleship Class is on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

The Church Mission is “To reach out and renew lives.”


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