NPR visits church services held in bars; the services incorporate the drinking of craft beer. Excerpt:
Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening’s gospel message.
She’s a 28-year-old leasing agent who’s been coming to Church-in-a-Pub here in Fort Worth, Tex., for a year, and occasionally leads worship.
“I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” she says. “And I find friends that love God, love craft beer.”
Every Sunday evening, 30 to 40 people gather at Zio Carlo brewpub to order pizza and pints of beer, to have fellowship, and have church — including communion.
Pastor Philip Heinze and his Calvary Lutheran Church sponsor Church-in-a-Pub, whose formal name is the Greek word, Kyrie.
Some patrons are understandably confused. They come in for a brew and there’s a religious service going on in their bar. They expected Trivia Night and they get the Holy Eucharist.
“I tell ‘em, it’s a church service,” says bartender Les Bennett, “And they’re, like, ‘In a pub?’ And I’m, like, yeah. Some of ‘em stick around for trivia, some of ‘em take off, some of ‘em will hang out and have another pint or two.”
This may have grown out of the Theology On Tap program that some Catholic parishes have implemented in recent years. It involves gathering people in a bar to have a beer and to talk about God. The concept — and it’s a terrific one — is to reach people who would likely not set foot in a church, and to engage them in a discussion about faith in a comfortable setting. It makes perfect sense for people who are part of a religious tradition that doesn’t stigmatize alcohol consumption. Some of the deepest and most serious conversations I ever had about ideas, including theological ones, took place in bars when I was an undergraduate. I get Theology On Tap.
This I do not get. The sacred space needs to be the sacred space. It doesn’t necessarily have to have icons, or crucifixes, or stained glass windows, but it needs to be set aside and consecrated, and revered as a holy place. Why not have church in Aisle 5 at Home Depot, if the place doesn’t really matter? Why not just use potato chips and diet Coke for the Eucharist, if one thing is just as good for Sabbath worship as the other?