Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Organizations Pair Religion with Alcohol

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Organizations Pair Religion with Alcohol

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS - If a man was proclaiming religious ideas from a soapbox on Hennepin Avenue, what would you - or Jesus - do? Perhaps you could try pondering the issue over a brew.

A small group imbibed and pontificated on this scenario recently in a northeast Minneapolis living room. Booze, scripture and YouTube helped anoint the latest Bible and Brew hosted by Nicholas and Kristin Tangen, both 30 and members of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in the Northeast neighborhood.

"We really try and look at the intersection of faith and life, Nicholas Tangen said of the group he founded last summer. "I think that fits well with sitting around a table with some beer.

The gathering is one of many monthly events across the Twin Cities area combining faith-based activities and alcohol.

Some are local, such as Humble Walk Lutheran Church's Beer and Hymns, which is in its fifth year at Shamrocks in St. Paul, Minn. Others are chapters in national series, such as Theology on Tap, hosted by parish cooperatives West Metro Young Adults in Minneapolis and Cathedral Young Adults in St. Paul.

Some are aimed at specific audiences, such as a women's Wine and Dessert night at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Others focus on craft beers, including St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, which hosts What Would Jesus Brew?

"We're not trying to lure you as a bait and switch into our organization, said the Rev. Jodi Houge of Humble Walk Lutheran Church in St. Paul. "If you show up, you're already in. There's no secret agenda.

The groups all uncork ideas in spaces outside God's house, and drinking is neither encouraged nor required.

As the number of U.S. Christians wanes, according to studies by Pew Research Center, the groups offer alternative ways to strengthen religious worship, reaching out to people who are looking for something beyond the traditional.

"It's much more likely for twenty-somethings to get together at a local pub for food, fellowship and faith, rather than a church basement, said Peter Engelmeyer, 27, of West Metro Young Adults. "It's a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere.

The weekly events, held most recently at Champps in Minnetonka, allow Catholics to connect with one another and explore their faith, including a "grill the priest opportunity, organizers say.

"When you're preaching from the pulpit, it's a very one-sided conversation, said the group's adviser, the Rev. Joseph Johnson of Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park. Instead, "there's a give-and-take in conversation, so that you can hopefully flesh out what questions people have.

WIDE-OPEN SPACES

A night at the Tangens' roundtable deep-dives into economics, politics and social issues.

To prompt the 7:30 p.m. discussion, Nicholas Tangen toggled a PlayStation 2 remote to play a video of a street performer in New York City. …

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