Presbyterian minister reaches beyond church walls by holding Bible study in a bar

Published: Thursday, July 19 2012 4:00 a.m. MDT

Our take: Presbyterian Minister Rodger McDaniel's Bible study class isn't exactly a traditional not because of what is being taught but because of where it is being taught. As many as 45 people show up to McDaniel's Bible study at Uncle Charlie's bar each Monday evening and, according to McDaniel, the numbers are significantly higher than he had ever seen while holding a Bible study in the basement of his church. While some agree with the idea of "going to where the people are," others worry about the possibility of using or introducing vices like alcohol to people who may be struggling.

Every Monday night, Uncle Charlie's bar in Cheyenne, Wyo., hosts "Bibles and Beer," a discussion that routinely pulls in people of all faiths and an atheist.

As many as 45 people have shown up, some toting Bibles. Some might have a drink; others stick to water. Some talk; others mostly listen. There are only a few ground rules: Avoid debate and stick to the text to be discussed that week.

"There really is not a focus on drinking," insists Rodger McDaniel, a Presbyterian minister who organized the weekly gathering more than a year ago. "But at the same time, it is a much more relaxed atmosphere than in a church basement. If I put this on in my church, I don't think we would have five or six people.

Across the country, faith is becoming bar talk. The trend combines the traditional religious charge to go where the people are with the reality that a lot of them are in bars. Organizers include those from mainline churches, those building churches and bar owners and brewers. Some are trying to push the model nationally, taking an ageless yearning for meaning and purpose to places where people often go to try to wash their worries away.

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