Off The Press

January 19, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

A Rogue Chipotle Ale may be something that sounds a bit odd to request during church, but a deeper well is just what members of the Our Savior Lutheran Church are looking for.

Chantelle Lusebrink Press Reporter

Chantelle Lusebrink Press Reporter

The Rev. Ryan Fletcher and more than 20 of his church’s community meet at the Issaquah Brew House at 8 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month to explore questions of faith and share experiences of life.“For me, the interest is in getting the members of our church together outside of the church building,” he said.

From the group, he said he hopes people take away two things — building community with fellow parishioners and community members, and letting people be more comfortable with faith-based conversations or faith witnesses in public.

When asking around the restaurant for the group at a recent meeting, people gave me funny looks when I would ask them, “So, are you here for Bible study?”

People would give me those looks right before saying things like, “No, this is a bar” and “I don’t go to church in a bar.”

“I think it’s cool,” said Kathy, a parishioner. “A lot of people who may not feel comfortable at church may feel more comfortable coming here.”

“I don’t know how other religions feel about the idea of alcohol and church,” Fletcher said. “But Martin Luther used to have something called table talks, where followers would gather and discuss their religion over home brew.

“I don’t see it as being controversial.”

The group that started about four months ago has drawn more people each month.

At first, only a few people showed up, Fletcher said. But by the group’s meeting in December, more than 25 people crowded around several tables.

“Beer and the Bible — it kind of drew me into it,” said Phil, a parishioner and Central Washington University student home for the holidays. “I wanted to see what we’d discuss.”

The format was extremely casual. No Bibles were read from and scripture wasn’t recited. But talk of faith in God and how it impacted individual families’ lives was. As were other everyday topics, like children, news of old friends, city politics and even the weather.

If they ever were to run out of things to discuss, though, Fletcher had special table coasters printed to help.

One asked, “Who has named for you the gifts you have?” and “What are those gifts?”

“I was curious to see how we were going to work in a deep theological discussion,” said another parishioner, named Dave, referencing a coaster. “I guess this is it.”

It’s also provided a new way for parents and their adult children to share their faith and learn about each other.

“This is our first time,” said Gary, another parishioner, with his wife and college-aged daughter. “I’d been wanting to attend and check out the fellowship, but this is the first time it worked for us. And since our daughter is home from college, we thought it might be fun.”

At the table, they were able to share their college experiences with other families, share new information about common friends, and learn more about each other and the community they share.

“We had a great time,” Kathy said. “It was fun to talk to people and it’s a lot more personal than just passing them in the halls at church.”

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this column at www.issaquahpress.com.

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