By LEANNDRA PADGETT
Kelsey LaDale Ach is a Nicholasville native with a surprising weekly pastime: she frequents strip clubs in Lexington. This may seem surprising, but don’t worry, she’s not there for entertainment purposes. Kelsey volunteers as part of the Bruised Reed Ministry of Southland Christian Church. This group visits five of Lexington’s eight strip clubs weekly to serve homemade meals and form relationships with the women who work there (the group is not allowed into the remaining three clubs). Her year of volunteering has brought Kelsey to some surprising realizations. One day, Kelsey walked in to serve a meal and saw a stripper studying a sociology textbook. As a soc major herself, this struck home with Kelsey as she “realized the girls we work with are exactly like me.” This view of the situation led Kelsey to decide on a senior research project focusing on Christianity and the sex industry. Her paper, “The Sexed-up Church: Bridging the Gap Between the Church and the Entertainment Industry” just won second place at the ASK (Anthropologists and Sociologists of Kentucky) Conference in Louisville this spring. Kelsey describes serving meals in the strip clubs as the first step in reaching women in the clubs. She is also involved in the second step through Refuge for Women, a transitional living program that “offers a new beginning to women leaving the sex industry” (refugeforwomen.org). She has interned with this organization and plans to continue volunteering in the future.
Involvement with Southland and its ministries such as Bruised Reed was one reason that Kelsey chose Georgetown College. She wanted to be close enough to home to be able to stay involved with her church. The Lexington Christian Academy graduate was also drawn to GC’s soccer program which she participated in for two years. She has been involved in campus Greek life as a Sigma Kappa. Kelsey is also a President’s Ambassador. In addition to her sociology major, she has a psychology minor. She loves the community GC offers as well as the close faculty-student relationships. Kelsey recognizes that her professors played a major role in helping her to work towards her goal of “trying to fill in the gap between the sex industry and the church.” She says that “Faculty like Dr. Cribbs and Dr. Carter constantly challenged me to seek out more information…they didn’t put a limit on what I wanted to study.” She urges underclassmen to “develop strong relationships with your professors, because they are most definitely the key to your success.” She also advises “Don’t put a limit on yourself.” While she would never have imagined herself frequenting strip clubs and considering strippers her friends, the experience has changed her plans about future ministry and continues to be “one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.”
When watching TV, Kelsey loves “The Voice.” Perhaps it is shows like this that lead her to the decision that singing would be the talent she would choose if she could have her wish. She laughingly admits that “I can’t carry a tune!” When driving, Kelsey steers a car named Stacy. After graduation, Kelsey will continue to volunteer with Bruised Reed and Refuge for Women. She definitely feels “called into full-time vocational ministry” and is sure the specifics will iron themselves out in time. Her faith and reliance on God are obvious as she relates that “He’s never let me down!”