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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Wrestling with God

‘Body slams," "sleeper holds" and other professional wrestling moves don't seem to have much to do with Christianity. But David Ridenhour has found a way to mix his two passions into a business that also serves as an outreach ministry.

Ridenhour, pastor of Old St. Paul Lutheran Church, Newton, N.C., grew up a pro wrestling fan. While attending Lutheran Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C., he cheered the good guys on to pin the villains at local weekly matches.

But by the 1980s, when wrestling became a big cable TV sport, what Ridenhour calls good clean fun began transforming into "junk that you couldn't take a kid to." Into that junk category he dumps sexuality and other adult-theme theatrics.

Then the Exodus Wrestling Alliance — a Christian organization — came to town.


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