Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Prayer circles and Bible studies are what you may think about with the church, but one Midlands preacher does something a little more unexpected.
In the same building preacher Chris Willingham holds church services - Studio 714 - he trains people in mixed martial arts and self defense.
Willingham says he got started in martial arts in the early 90's while he was in the navy. After preaching in Atlanta for years, Willingham says he felt called to bring his preaching and martial parts background to Whitmire.
He offers self defense, jiu jitsu, and Taekwondo classes during the week, transforming the space with chairs and church pews on Sundays. He says his goal is to transform the town spiritually and physically.
"You have a lot of people here who really love their town, they take a lot of pride in their town, but they just don't have a lot of resources," Willingham said. "Sometimes it takes people from the outside coming in with a fresh perspective that will actually embrace the community and kind of grab them by the hand and pull them up and I think that's kind of what I'm here for."