Alcohol at church event ?

hilltop_gwMarch 16, 2012

What are your thoughts on serving alcohol at a church event off-site? Or thoughts on a church getting a liquor license? Evening would consist of social hour (6-7), dinner (7-8) and then a comedy program by a church member's relative. Only beer and wine served (requiring liquor license). Alcohol serving would stop around 9pm. Would you as a member or would your church, members or locale go along with it? Seeking biblical perspective, social reasons, balancing respect of disapproving founding church members w/ attempt to attract younger crowd, health & safety perspective, etc.

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lukkiirish

"members w/ attempt to attract younger crowd"

When you say younger crowd, I'm assuming you mean the 20 & 30 somethings right?

I'm not a religious person so my .02 cents probably won't mean much, but I think there should be a better way to attract people in general to your event. I just think if someone wants to be there, they will be there regardless of their age demographic and the reason shouldn't be because alcohol will be served; it should be because that's where they want to be, period. IMO, by trying to entice attendance with alcohol, you're sending the wrong message.

Another thought is, a church is supposed to set an example and is often a refuge of support for people with drinking and drug problems. Again, in that regard, I think it would be sending the wrong message if a Church held a liquor license and sold liquor.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 12:55PM
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maddielee

I have no problem with a church offering beer and wine at certain events.

The beer booth at the Catholic School Carnivals (Church property) that we have helped with have always been big money making concessions (specially when the beer is donated).

Wine is often available at the church spaghetti dinners, usually with no set price..a sign asking for a donation is set on the bar.

I don't think restaurants even need a license to sell beer or wine here in Florida.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think if you want to look at it biblicaly, at least how I would see it, the things that attract people (all ages) are when God shows up and does amazing things. So as a church, I think the perspective is to seek God in such a way that He does do something phenomenal. But that's boring to most.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 1:28PM
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trailrunnerbiker

We are Unitarian so my opinion is skewed by that. There are a number of times a year that wine/beer is served in our main bldg and also at events that are representing our fellowship that are held off site. We never charge or except donations so no license needed.

My only comment on the event your church is planning is the part about attracting a younger crowd with alcohol. I think that is a very very poor idea. Alcohol is already a huge problem in this country and especially with young people. Living in a college town for over 30 years and having 3 children has given me a very conservative outlook concerning alcohol consumption. If that is being used as a primary motivation for having alcohol then I would vote a resounding NO to it. c

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 1:30PM
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arcy_gw

Your question made me think. Do the KC's need a liquor license for their beer tent or selling canned beer at a festival? We served champagne at our wedding reception held in the church gathering space. I don't have an issue with a casual use of liquor at church..but a license just sounds wrong to me. There is a fine line between personal choices i.e. having a wedding toast and institutional approval. A license and weekly/monthly event, I would vote no.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 1:53PM
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natal

How is serving alcohol an attempt to attract a younger crowd? As a member of a church you're either inclined to attend something like that or not. If drinking is your main incentive there are much easier ways to accomplish that.

And there's always going to be a group against it ... founding members or not.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 2:13PM
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tinam61

It would never come up at my church - it's just not something that is going to happen. I agree with what Lukki said about a church setting an example. I think it would shed a negative light on the church. Granted, I would hope someone is not going to have too much to drink at a church function, but who knows? I'm assuming there will be children there. It needs to be thought about what kind of message this is sending them. Also, the liability if someone did drink (too much) and drive. . .

Just my thoughts.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 2:19PM
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hilltop_gw

OK, I'll expand a little.
This is the first time the liquor topic has even been approached by our church. We invited in 10 couples to give ideas and plan a spring event ( mostly couples who don't usually get asked). Only 3 of the couples consented to help. We're a dying rural church & town. The "community" idea is gone. This event is an idea they came up with. It's definitely stretching the limits for our Lutheran church. Since money is exchanging hands, we've been told we need a liquor license in our state. We need to cover for the meal & comedian costs.
The Catholic church in our town has held similar events in the past but skirted the liquor license by just charging for the meal, inviting people to bring in their own bottle & "magically" having a glass of wine show up with each person's dinner. We're too by-the-rule to do that.

This committee's thought was that a social hour prior to the meal and comedian (from NY) would provide mingling and fellowship. It seems like alcohol is served at most evening events that are held around here, and many people leave the Saturday night service to go down to the bar for a burger and beer, but this is a first for our church. Nearest nice restaurant is 45min away.

A few years ago we had an auction to raise money (all items donated) and although we made money, many items brought far below what they were worth because everyone is so practical and serious. It was fine, but businesslike, limited laughter and fun even though we tried.

On the one hand we have the older, matriarchs & patriarchs of the church (70-80's range) who always do everything but are getting tired of doing it. So, we brought in a different younger group (35-50 range) for ideas. Our 20-30 church crowd is really limited. We don't have many "young" people in our very rural area so when I say young it's all relative.

I've heard the older crowd is absolutely against it; but the next generation group that's planning it is like "you asked us for ideas, if you don't like it then don't ask us again and you can continue to have coffee and cookies and pie socials."

I'm fine with a glass of wine and don't think it will get carried away. But it's obviously a divisive topic.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:03PM
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runninginplace

Hilltop, I'm not a church goer so I can't really give any valid perspective.

But I want to say I admire very much how your congregation is trying to think outside the normal boundaries, and trying to work together to figure out ways to stay true to your ideals while increasing your numbers.

Ann

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 5:08PM
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hilltop_gw

Instead of saying attracting a younger crowd, I maybe should have phrased it that we're just trying to have a little fun and do something different to show we're not a bunch of stodgy old folk. Personally I think the whole thing is rather ironic. I'd bet 90% of the group might have a beer or glass of wine now and then. We have other meetings/gatherings with wine & beer at our Pastor's home and other church leader homes. Seems hypocritical to make others think our entire church is a bunch of tea-teetotalers.

Yes, runninginplace we're trying. We have a Saturday night service & Sunday AM service, both of which attract a unique group, even in our small town. We were trying to come up with an event that all might enjoy attending, but seem to have opened up a different can of worms.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:30PM
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graywings123

If I were you, I would try it at least once. But then, I'm not a church-goer. But then again, maybe I'm who you are looking to attract.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:35PM
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Oakley

I'm a First Christian and I attend the Catholic Church at times. Long story.

My town is divided between Lutherans and Catholics. The Catholics constantly have liquor on the premises, whether it's a wedding reception on the Church grounds, or the KoC summer carnival, where beer can be bought. The Lutherans don't.

Now I'm no prude..maybe I am as I've gotten older, but it kind of bothers me that alcohol is used on Church grounds.

Know what I would do? I's call the State liquor license place and simply ask them. You don't have to say who you are, just ask how Catholics can sell beer on their grounds, and if they get liquor licenses.

But for any Church to get a liquor license just doesn't seem right. It's a place where we should be able to go and feel safe instead of being around a bunch of drunks which always happens.

May Peace be with you. :)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:01PM
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golddust

I don't have an opinion either way but think you should make sure what the liability of the church would be if someone got a DUI etc. on the way home.

My SIL is CEO of a business and the company hires Taxis for their employees at company parties if alcohol is going to be present.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:08PM
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rdquilter

Seems like some of you are hung up by the church "getting a liquor license". They are not getting a license allowing them to serve liquor like a bar or restaurant. It is probably like an "event license" that allows them to serve liquor at functions and yes, they should have the liab insurance that you get for those events also. My church serves wine at dinners and I have never seen anyone overindulge. Well, maybe at the annual auction, but that is adults only, no kids in attendance. I see the point to not having alcohol part of every church social, but aren't they talking about one event? I bet it would be well attended and folks would have fun!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:24PM
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natal

It's a single event ... I say go for it. What have you got to lose?

I was raised Lutheran. When my mom passed away a few years ago we could have opted to have a funeral reception at the church, but opted for a private room at one of her favorite local restaurants where liquor was served. It made for a more relaxed setting. And sounds like that's what you're shooting for.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:53PM
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les917

Not sure why this would be an issue, unless the particular sect doesn't allow consumption of alcohol.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:54PM
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kswl2

Jesus' first miracle was to transform water into wine....to me that is the ultimate seal of Christian approval. I am Episcopalian and we have wine at our dinners, sherry at teas and other drinks at other events. We've never had to obtain a license, it is just part of the meal--- it isn't sold. Good luck with your venture!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:16PM
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SheeshareeII

"It would never come up at my church - it's just not something that is going to happen. I agree with what Lukki said about a church setting an example. I think it would shed a negative light on the church. Granted, I would hope someone is not going to have too much to drink at a church function, but who knows? I'm assuming there will be children there. It needs to be thought about what kind of message this is sending them. Also, the liability if someone did drink (too much) and drive. . ."

Ditto.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:55PM
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kswl2

But if the church doesn't believe drinking alcohol is a sin, or wrong, there is no bad example being set, is there? I'm not trying to be contentious, just curious as to why alcohol at a church function would set a bad example .

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:29PM
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natal

Since this is not a religion that forbids the consumption of alcohol the arguments, against it, that some express here are a non-issue.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:44PM
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SheeshareeII

The OP original question was,"What are your thoughts on serving alcohol at a church event off-site? Or thoughts on a church getting a liquor license?" "Would you as a member or would your church, members or locale go along with it?"

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:05PM
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SheeshareeII

wasn't done posting...

I'm rather confused then why the OP would ask the question about alcohol. If it's a non issue then it should be fine.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:13PM
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hilltop_gw

I'm the OP. More update. Committee met to discuss and plan the event. During the meeting discussion of liquor license, I called the Council Chair to inform him of the possible event. I'm Vice-Chair. Due to the timeline, the committee got town board approval to apply for liquor license BEFORE the church council met; they meet this next week. So, town board gets approval and small town newspaper puts it on front page that church is applying for liquor license. Remember it's a small town and this gets people talking. Council meets this next week and needs to give approval. Apparently some older (lifelong, contributing) members are threatening to leave if it moves forward. They've nothing more to talk about. I don't really care one way or another. I think it might help to make the event more successful. I didn't realize it would be that big of a deal, but apparently to the older crowd (and I'm 55 and a younger member) it represents a shift in the principles or direction of our local church group.

So, there's no written reason why alcohol can't be served, just small town politics and concern over public impression.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:15AM
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Marigene

Another thought...if you have a liquor license, you would have to have some type of liability insurance, too, wouldn't you? Liability insurance for anyone serving liquor is very expensive.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 4:18PM
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natal

Marigene, haven't seen you in forever! Are you still blogging?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 4:24PM
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sweeby

Down here, folks get drunk after church...

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:40AM
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lukkiirish

Ha! That's how it was when we lived in the south! LMAO Thanks for the laugh Sweeby!!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 12:24PM
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HIWTHI

A few years back I went to a church fair and the most popular priest at that church was walking around with a beer and cigarette. That really turned me off. I just don't think it's appropriate for a priest to be smoking and drinking in public. What he does in private is between him and his boss. He's suppose to be setting an example and I found that in very poor taste.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 5:03PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

It really is a complicated issue! Jesus certainly did turn water into wine and Timothy is told to take a little wine for his stomach but drunkenness is clearly labeled a sin.
We all know the devastating effects of alcoholism which effects so many people.
Personally, I think taking the higher road, and setting an example and also, not being a hindrance is the better way to do things. It's not because I'm a traditionalist but because I have an alcoholic in my life.
I have seen and experienced the results of my having a glass of wine in front of them. But for that person, it is interpreted as "Well, if they're going to have a drink, so will I!" and of course, it doesn't stop with one or two drinks.
Perhaps it is easy to say, why should their problems hinder me? But as Christians we are to walk in love at all times, do unto others, etc. and if I can prevent a Christian who is having a difficult time managing, not slip further, than I have a responsibility to do so.
And, I think church activities should be a safe haven for all those who need to live a clean life.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 9:18PM
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natal

Hilltop, so did it make headlines yet? What a shame it has to become a control issue by some. Reminds me of the current crop of GOP candidates waging their war on women.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 9:56PM
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HIWTHI

I think Bumblebeez pretty much says it all. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:34PM
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vivian31

First off, I'll say that we're Catholic, so there's never been a problem having beer/wine at events. It's just THERE. No big deal--even at school-related functions. Generally our Knights of Columbus run the beer tent or bar or whatever.

In Indiana we are required to get a temporary permit to sell alcohol AND ALSO the servers are required to be licensed bartenders. Many of the Knights are, so it's pretty much a non-issue. My husband is. It's not a big deal to get one.

My sister is also minister at a Disciples of Christ church and they have no issue regarding alcohol at church events. You want to, you do. If you don't, you don't. No big deal.

I think that it depends on the church community's general philosophy as a whole. There will probably be dissenters--vocal dissenters, so I would be prepared for some backlash.

I personally do not see it as a problem, though. Being religious and drinking alcohol are not mutually exclusive.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:30AM
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hilltop_gw

Follow-up: The committee and the council mutually agreed that having a social hour with alcohol was creating too much controversy and so we dropped the idea. We'll have a meal and comedy show.
Personally I felt it could be done tastefully and responsibly so that we could have one drink and set an example that people can have fellowship with a drink without getting drunk, but it will have to be a different time and different place, not at our church event.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:39PM
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palimpsest

Technically, alcohol is a part of the Roman Catholic service, even if you believe is transubstantiation.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:07PM
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anele_gw

I have to say, I am not Christian nor a church-goer (I would go, but my whole time is spent trying to keep my kids busy but quiet, so no . . .), but the idea of a comedy show is GREAT. I am tired of people needing/wanting alcohol to "relax" and "have fun." Laughter is a much better way!

Side note-- according to a doctor I know, fetal alcohol syndrome is worse than any other kind of drug addiction that a baby could have. Interesting, huh?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 3:10AM
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