Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Church of England Gives Free Beer for Father's Day

Mother's Day in many churches brings all sorts of recognition of the role that mothers play in in each of our lives. Usually the moms receive some kind of flower as a small way to say, "Thank you" and "We love you."

Try giving a flower to a dad who comes to church about as often as the church comes to him, and you might find that he begins to see the church as a place only for women or sissies. That being the case, maybe the Church of England is on to something here.

St. Stephen's church in Barbourne, Worcester passed out bottles of beer on Father's Day this year as a message symbolic of the "generosity of God." Other churches participated in the celebration by handing out beer and one church included bacon rolls.

The Ven. Roger Morris said, "Posies of flowers are given to mums on Mothering Sunday and we wanted to give a laddish, blokeish gift to the men. A bottle of beer hits the mark. The whole of life is to be celebrated in church."

The decision is not without controversy in Britain, but it's nothing compared to what a church in America would face were it to make a similar decision.

Those of us on this side of the pond have a culture marked by the temperance movement, but England, and Europe in general, tends to be more open to alcohol consumption. (Many churches in America still use grape juice in communion all the while claiming to be "Bible" churches. Hint: the Biblical celebration of Eucharist did not included Welch's.)

If you doubt my comparison at all between the British and American views of alcohol, allow me to add this tidbit:

"Men at St Stephen's church in Barbourne, Worcester, will be handed bottles of beer by children during the service. A prayer will be said for the fathers before the gifts are distributed."

How does that sit with you?

As much as I think the church in America needs a healthier and more balanced view of alcohol, I'm not sure this is the way we should approach it in our churches considering the ferocity of the opinions present in most American churches.

I do know of one American church who has a ministry named after St. Arnold, the Patron Saint of Brewers and Hops-pickers, which is a men's ministry that includes discussing theology over beer once a week. If your congregation is okay with it, I think this is totally cool. If you know of severe

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