Gang Hangout to Be a Church

Purchased in January from former gang boss Howie Winter, the auto body shop in Somerville, Mass., is best known as a place where James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi forged a partnership in the 1970s that led them to the top of Boston’s underworld and the center of an FBI scandal.

But the Rev. Collin Green of Somerville Church of God, which is affiliated with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), said he is not intimidated by the garage’s sordid past. “The memories are there, but the people will see there is a transformation,” Green, 51, told the Boston Globe. He said he purchased the facility because his 50-member congregation needed more space; he learned of the garage’s history only recently.

The garage served as a command center for the gang, which from the 1970s until 1994 fixed horse races along the East Coast, corrupted the Boston office of the FBI and provided the basis for the film The Departed, which was loosely based on Bulger’s role as an FBI informant, the Somerville News reported. Bulger has been a fugitive since 1995, wanted for racketeering and 19 killings. Winter was released from prison in 2002, and Flemmi is currently serving a life sentence for 10 murders.

Referring to a trap door thought to be used to dump bodies into the basement, Green told the News that he had “already rebuked anything in there in the name of Jesus.”

Former gang member John Martorano, a hit man-turned-government witness who confessed to killing 20 people, was amused by the garage’s new purpose. “Hallelujah,” he told the Globe. “I think it’s great. I’m all for religion.”

But Winter admits the idea of people praying in a building that once housed the gang’s loan sharking and gambling businesses is “kind of odd.”

“I was just looking to sell it, and I had no clue who was buying it,” said Winter, who sold the property for $330,000. “I just wish the guy luck, whatever he does.”

Green said the church doors are open to any gang members who want to repent. “If they need Jesus, then we’re here to present Him to them.”

To contact us or to submit an article, click here.

Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

It's a NEW YEAR! Get ready for a NEW YOU!

  • New Year Discounts On Book Bundles & Gifts: Click Here to view all our bundles and save up to 72%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • Go Deeper with God in a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all eight of our free courses. Topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Anointed Woman Of God: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Never Stop Praying - Prayer Changes Everything! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • New Year - New You - Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for two years for Only $29.97 and get two free gifts. Gift #1 The Harbinger. Gift #2 The Harbinger II. Both books are by New York Times Best-Selling author Jonathan Cahn. View Offer

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective