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That New-Time Religion

Downtown church preaches to the hip crowd.

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Alex Ennes says he’s no comedian. Then what’s the 36-year-old pastor of Gateway Church doing onstage at Hilarities? “We got your attention, right?” he laughs. Every Sunday morning, Ennes leads church services at the comedy club. “People think there is this division between church and culture,” he says. “A church in the heart of an entertainment district will help rebuild Cleveland.”

Ennes and his wife Shari founded the church last fall. Their mission is to bring a weekly dose of religion to their affluent neighbors. Meetings began in the living room of their downtown condo. In February, they worked out a deal with Hilarities. On April Fools’ Day, more than 100 congregants showed up at the club for an hour-long prayer service and concert by the church’s four-piece Christian-rock band. In his sermon, Ennes told his flock that he plans to partner with neighboring businesses to plant trees and clean streets. He even wants to throw parties during Tribe, Browns, and Cavs games. “It’s a perfect fit that God has led us to,” says Ennes.
Sundays, 10:30 a.m., 2007

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