Ale and the Almighty: Is there room for beer with Bible study?

Published: Apr. 15, 2014 at 9:23 PM CDT|Updated: May. 12, 2014 at 9:20 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - It's something you don't think of together very often: beer and Bibles. A Shreveport group says the combination is breaking down traditional church walls, allowing their faith to become bar talk, with no judgments. After all, the Bible says Jesus turned water into wine.

"If we have a beer with someone, and you're just going to be talking, the conversation happens to be about Jesus and God and how it applies to our lives in a very comfortable, casual setting," explains Brooks Boylan with Shreveport's St. Mark's Cathedral.

Boylan says Ale and the Almighty is a new type of bible study in Shreveport, where the group pops open bottles of wine and beer before sitting down to discuss what theology is on tap. "I thought it was really appealing because it's kind of not the stuffy church thing people think of sometimes," says David Roberts, who has shown up to join in the conversation.

"It's funny because people are like, 'Uh, why do you have alcohol' and I'm like 'Well, its casual, you can't have a beer and be stuffy," says Boylan, who leads the conversations and says it's a way for them to take the church to the community and share their spirit with spirits.

"God is not a topic of conversation daily. However it has happened before. The beer makes it feel more casual," agrees Cate Wellman, who has also taken part an Ale and the Almighty fellowship.

Alston Johnson, Dean at St. Mark's Cathedral, says it's a good way to get young adults talking about God. "I do feel like a lot of people go out into the nightlife in town and we just thought, people are going to go out and eat out or go to bars so we might as well create a setting where they can talk about God. Versus, perhaps the other things that go on in places that serve alcohol."

Boylan says it's a very casual setting. "I teach a little bit on it, but mainly its free-flow conversation." The group says serving up hops along with hymns may be shocking to some, but has led to deeper discussions about the readings. Blake Jackson was so moved by the events, he offered his venue, Drakes Catering, as a place to get together. "It really started to change something in me that I was not really sure of. It made a big impact."

"I think to each their own. This works for us. This gets us out and talking and sharing, it gets us discussing how the Lord affects our daily life," says Taylor Sittig.

As for those who may be opposed to drinking while study the Bible, Jackson says, "I have nothing wrong with people that don't want to drink, you know? I feel that they should feel the same way towards me, why have a problem with it?" In God's eyes we're all equal."

Johnson says the Episcopal Church is no stranger to serving up alcohol. "We're a sacramental church, so every Sunday in our Holy Eucharist, or our version of the Mass, or the Holy Communion. We actually serve fermented substances, fermented wine, and we do not have that sense of prohibition about alcohol."

Ale and the Almighty is not just for Episcopalians. They say making God a topic of conversation, whether alcohol is involved or not, is a good thing. Johnson says anyone who wants to check it out is more than welcome. "If you're curious, just come visit with these guys and see what it's about."

The group meets every Monday at Drakes Catering in Shreveport at 6PM. They say everyone, no matter their religious affiliation, are welcome. You do, however, have to be 21 years old.

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