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California Church Gives People Beer During Services and Is Building a Brewery

Extra Crispy logo Extra Crispy 8/14/2018 Mike Pomranz
a close up of a glass of beer on a table © Provided by TIME Inc.

Some people like to spend their Sundays at church. Others would prefer to enjoy the weekend relaxing with a beer at their local brewery. A church in Santa Cruz, California, wants people to have their god and drink it too: They’re building a brewery and plan to hold services inside, beer included.

The Greater Purpose Community Church has been holding services in the Santa Cruz area for about five years, according to NBC Bay Area, but a recent, literally buzzworthy decision has garnered the congregation a sudden increase in attention. Pastor Chris VanHall dumped the church’s old home and temporarily moved his flock into a lounge with plenty of draft beer tap, allowing churchgoers to drink beer or wine during services. “We decided to sell the building, because for us a church is a community and a movement,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s not brick and mortar.”

However, it will be brick and mortar again soon, and this time around, the church will take the form of a brewpub. “I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if a church could figure out a way to make a product where they split the profits with local community service organizations, we were like ‘hey, we love beer, we love making beer, why not do a brewery?’” VanHall told the local news station.

Join us for Faith on Tap at @scfoodlounge ‘s bar! We’ll talk faith, love, and community!

A post shared by Greater Purpose (@gpccsantacruz) on May 9, 2018 at 11:06am PDT

In a move indicative of the times, the church has reportedly taken over the old site of Logos Books & Records—a former Santa Cruz institution that closed last year after 48 years in business—and will be converting the space into the Great Purpose Brewing Company and restaurant, slated to open in the summer of 2019. “During the week, we'll serve Southern-style comfort food with vegan and vegetarian [options],” the church says on its website. “On Sunday, we'll host a church service before opening up to the public. Like our church, the restaurant will be open to be people of all faiths/no faith, gender, sexual, and ethnic-racial identities.”

The church’s site also explains that “30% to 60% of our profit will go to charities such as Planned Parenthood, the Homeless Garden Project, the Diversity Center, and Save Our Shores,” in case you want a hint as to where this church’s beliefs lie.

“We don't want to dupe anyone. We don't want to have this bar, and say ‘OK come on in’ and boom you get a church service,” VanHall told NBC Bay Area. He later told KION News, “When you come in as a customer Monday through Saturday you’re not going to be preached at all you’re not getting a church service, there’s not going to be biblical merchandise anywhere, nothing like that. It’s going to be a safe space for people of all faith or no faith, people of all sexual and gender identities, on Sunday’s we will have church in the bar but it’s going to be before we open to the public so it’s not like anyone is going to get duped into coming to church at any point.”

As for the idea of serving alcohol at church, VanHall had that covered as well. “There’s nothing in the bible that says you can't drink alcohol in a responsible manner,” he said. Later he quipped, “They can have one or two, as a matter of fact if they have two my sermon’s always better.” As VinePair reports, mixing church and brewing isn’t a new concept. Monks have been making beer to support themselves for centuries, and many of these beers still exist today like Chimay, Orval, and Westvleteren.

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