Church in a bar

Worship in a bar? It's become commonplace to hear of congregations holding meetings or bible study groups in coffee shop, but Sunday service in working bar? While the bar is still open?

Two congregations in Brooklyn are doing that regularly now. Church goers pick up their drinks and move to the back of the room for worship. They take their smartphone bibles with them in one hand and hold their libations in another. They refill as necessary.

One of the congregations meets in the Trash Bar:

"Mr. Turrigiano and Trash Bar came together in the way of many Brooklyn odd couples –through the website Craigslist. The pastor had posted an ad under the heading “Unconventional Church Needs Bar,” and Trash Bar was one of the few to respond.

“We said we will give you business at a time when you don’t have business,” Mr. Turrigiano said.

It was the same sort of negotiation Revolution NYC pastor Jay Bakker, the 36-year-old son of televangelists Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, made to secure space for his flock at Pete’s Candy Store. The bar’s owners get a nominal fee, Mr. Bakker said, and in return his congregants bolster the bar’s till before, during and after the service.

“We opened an hour early just for them,” said bartender Dave Thrasher. “So it is business we wouldn’t normally have.”"

The other congregation, named "Revolution" meets in Pete's Candy Store and is headed by Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

“My whole life I have gone to Catholic church and hated it because it was boring and miserable,” said Will Zucconi, 27, who has been attending Revolution services for a year. “I like to drink and I like to go to church, and if I can do both at the same time and that’s cool.”

More here in the Wall Street Journal.

I checked by the way. This is dated 3/30/12 and not written on April 1.

Comments (20)

The combination of bar and church is such a bad idea in oh so many ways. And I say that as someone who isn't averse to either churches or bars.

This is a great idea. As an Episcopalian who is completely bored with the norm I would try a church like this. If Christianity plans on surviving, they need to come up with creative ways to, keep me and others like me engaged.

(Thanks for your comment "urbanphish" Glad to have you here. Please though do use your real name to comment in the future.)

A church in a bar is a great idea. I'm bored at church, I don't go anymore. I'm tired of jot being able to relate through the worship service. Give me something new.

I wish people wouldn't reduce worship to "Me me me,I want to be entertained".

Nicole, I hope you will continue to comment and I apologize for unwelcoming comments. Yes- we hope for a diverse church - big tent. Hopefully the Host is present in our midst on this list.

Mission sometimes causes some interesting combinations and experiments.

Check out these combined parishes in Western Massachusetts, where they have given up deteriorating buildings on very limited resources to become a congregation "in a bar."


That's quite alright,Mo.Ann. I'm aware that people have strong feelings about certain issues.

St. Paul would no doubt say something terse and pithy about having homes in which to eat and drink, and we would be reminded of how loaves and fishes and long suppers became a far smaller yet vastly more important feast.

I mention that because it wasn't actually the eating which seems to have been a problem in the Early Church, but rather the drunkenness.

Which reminds me of those Christmas Eve services to which the enebriated tend to migrate, hitting the communion rail as if bellying up at Sardi's Bar... from which, they just arrived... and perhaps, given the dimensions of their very recent repast, oughtn't to have chosen Holy Eucharist as their very first stop, afterwards. Starbucks, and I'm thinking "Triple Espresso - Black," might have been a better idea. So, I'd advocate leaving the drinks in the bar when moving to the back room.

It does seem that Holy Eucharist is right out the window, as the situation's described in the article. But meeting to pray and consider Scripture's usually a good thing, wherever that meeting's held.

As for the drinking?

Maybe a nice, full-bodied red wine in a pitcher would be nice to share. And if everybody showed up sober and hungry, perhaps some bread. And if they happened to recall Jesus Christ, and possibly ran short on glasses, they could all share one big cup, too. And perhaps, if a priest happened to be there, a nice therapeutic unburdening of consciences, a recollection of forgiveness, and a few prayers might be offered to God along with the wine and bread. Then, after sharing it, everyone might feel inclined to be thankful for it and offer a nice prayer then, as well.

Just a thought...

Rev. CW Brockenbrough

This is not the first time, Ann, that you have directly, or, as in this case, by implication criticized posters who have challenged Ms Porter for homophobia. When I feel that I have made "unwelcoming comments" on a blog, which in this case I do not, I am more than capable of apologizing for myself, and neither need nor much appreciate third party intervention.

Thanks to all three of you -- Roger, Ann, and Nicole -- for sharing your views. We may not always agree, and that is the wonderful thing about the church--we don't need to.


Eric Bonetti

Did I mention your name Roger? If it does not apply then it is not about you.

You mentioned no-one's name, Ann. So you apologized for nobody?

Pubbing and going dancing is an important part of my spiritual practice (though I don't go often enough). Christ is no less in a bar than in a church building. You heard one commentator say they would never step foot in a traditional church- it takes all kinds to make the world go around (praise the Lord and pass the peanuts).

Also, though I'm a high church person myself (you would never get that impression from my comments) but its safe to say that Jesus would be more comfortable doing bar church (as he frequently did) than Episcopal calisthenics week after week. Just something to keep in mind.

I did a funeral in a bar in Jackson WY. I felt like it was just where Jesus would be.

It's not the place that concerns me, it's the drinking. Recreational drugs and church don't mix well. And before some weisenheimer points out that Taylor's Tawny Port has a considerable amount of alcohol in it, I point out we give tiny little sips, and no refills.

Josh, I looked for the quote you alluded to. Couldn't find it, or anything close. Where'd you find it?

Bill, I think it was here

“My whole life I have gone to Catholic church and hated it because it was boring and miserable,” said Will Zucconi, 27, who has been attending Revolution services for a year. “I like to drink and I like to go to church, and if I can do both at the same time and that’s cool.”

Of course, if I could I would worship myself at a Cosmic Mass, modeled on rave masses in England as part of Fresh Expressions, I believe. Long before I found out about Matt Fox I found rave music (without drugs) to be highly worshipful.

Ah, but it doesn't say he wouldn't step foot in a traditional church, just that he hated the RC church. Liking is optional... ;-)

I would click in that YouTube link, but I just know I would regret interrupting the Anglican chant playlist I'm grooving to on my iPhone right now.

There's space both for rave and chant in Church, as last night I was streaming Marian chant on this beautiful album I'd like to get.

As I've said in other posts the new doesn't have to be the enemy of the old, and I think healthy worship going forward will be a blend.

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