Pub Theology attracts young Grand Rapids residents
Caroline MacGregor November 18, 2013 | WGVU "where prohibition kind of jumped in"
That was local pastor, Mike
Bartlett who started an off-shoot of Pub Theology in Grand Rapids.
Originally the vision of Traverse City-native
Bryan Bergoef, pub theology aims to reunite alcohol and religion beyond
practice of using wine for communion. Bartlett’s
version of this relationship is Theology on Tap, which is nearing
the end of its fall series on “God and Culture.”
While intriguing to some; shocking to others, Bartlett says the
mix of alcohol and religion is not an entirely unheard of practice; in fact, its
roots can be found in European Christian history.
"new phenomenon, at all"
While the consumption of beer is a taboo to many religious people
in the past and present, trends like Theology on Tap appear to be shifting the
norm in major cities across the US. Even Catholics are getting in on the act, meeting
upon occasion at Grand Rapid’s Derby Station. And, the group, Skeptics in the
Pub, gathers at Founders Brewing to,“have fun while promoting
science and rationality.”
Pew Research shows in 2012, a third of adults under 30
considered themselves religiously unaffiliated. Grand Rapids is known
for its strong religious
identity but many young people leave the church. Bartlett believes this
is because of the strict, legalistic atmosphere they grew up in. With
Theology on Tap, he hopes to reach those
who wish to reconnect with the church in a new way - gathering in a
vibrant area of the downtown that appeals to the city’s younger
"has really cool beers"
Bartlett says the micro-brew culture of Grand Rapids has paved the
way for civil conversation. While no formal “pint-limit” exists, no one gets
out of hand and the conversation remains respectful. Moving forward he
hopes for added diversity to spark meaningful and deeper discussion.
"where people are at"
The goal of Theology on Tap
is exactly that: to move people past distrust and tradition to
come together despite their differences.
This evening, the final meeting of
their fall series takes place at Harmony Brewing at 8pm. Grand Rapids can look forward to more series in the
future - Bartlett ensures that neither the conversations, nor the beer, will
be watered down.
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