Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A church is being transformed into a different way to save souls. Kwanzaa Community Church is changing its 10,000-square-foot building into a space where woman can go for help to get away from the sex trade.
And the beautiful stained-glass windows that welcomed worshippers for 75 years are at the center of that transformation.
“The decommissioning will mean life to someone else,” said Pastor Alika Galloway.
Their beauty and color captured the essence of the gospel and served as inspiration for countless members for decades.
Now they will be removed to make way for a new ministry, one that focuses on getting women off the streets and away from the sex trade.
“Most of these women are mothers with children and so this is survival sex,” Galloway said.
A growing number of women, some as young as 13, have entered the world of prostitution in north Minneapolis.
Co-Pastors Alika Galloway and her husband Rev. Dr. Ralph Galloway chose to do away with the stained glass because the women felt uncomfortable with the windows looking at them, increasing their feeling of shame.
“If these windows are a stumbling block to someone who wants to change their lives, the windows have to go. The gospel has to be real,” Alika Galloway said.
“Finally there is a place for us,” said Minister Geraldine Anderson.
Anderson was among the crowd who came to celebrate the messages of love and hope the windows displayed.
Now as a minister, Anderson knows all too well how badly a place for healing is needed for women who want out of the sex trade.
“I’m an ex-IV drug user, ex-cocaine smoker, ex-prostituted woman and I married my pimp,” Anderson said.
Now she helps others to get out.
A philanthropist from New York is buying the windows. The money will fund the new ministry.
Anderson said if there had been places like this when she was on the streets, she may not have walked them for as long as she did.
Dr. Lauren Martin, an anthropologist at the University of Minnesota, conducted the research. She worked with a focus group of 160 women who were involved in the sex trade in north Minneapolis. The research showed 46 percent traded sex at least once a week; 84 percent have experienced extreme violence.
The Northside Women’s Space hopes to turn those numbers around.