NorthStar church holds service at bar

NorthStar church holds service at bar

Church at the Joe on Monday night Church at the Joe on Monday night

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It wasn't Sunday morning and they weren't in a sanctuary, but Monday evening members of West Knoxville's NorthStar congregation proved a church isn't defined by its building. They held a worship service in a bar.

On most nights, Cotton Eyed Joe in West Knoxville is a country music bar and dance club. Monday night, there was still plenty of good music and a packed house wearing mostly blue jeans, but only soft drinks were served.

The official launch of "Church at the Joe" was a hit. The turnout, more than 600 people, was an answered prayer for NorthStar pastor Scott Cagle.

"Our real goal was to reach people who were unchurched or dechurched. What I mean by that is there's a lot of people who have gone to church in their life and maybe got hurt or wounded or discouraged or disappointed about the church," Cagle said.

The idea came from a church member who's a traveling Christian country singer. 

"I was coming back in from a trip one night and I drove past the Cotton Eyed Joe sign and God just really placed on my heart that we still weren't reaching the multitudes of people that loved country music. It became a real intense desire to do this," said Donny Cohen.

"Somebody asked me if the crowd is mostly NorthStar people. I said I see a few people I recognize but the majority of the people I've never seen before," said Donny's wife Kristal.

Sheri Hampton had never been to Cotton Eyed Joe or NorthStar Church, but heard about the special service and brought her daughter Kendra, 9.

"I was very impressed with the pastor, the way he spoke. The environment, the people. I just think it was fun," Hampton said.

Cotton Eyed Joe donated its space to the church for the service.

The next "Church at the Joe" is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 5. Next year, NorthStar hopes to have "Church at the Joe" every Monday night.

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