What Would Jesus Do?
November 11, 2010 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Is it appropriate to hold a fundraiser for a church in a bar?

This morning, the church I attended as a child burnt to the ground. I heard about the fire via Facebook, and have spent a lot of my day mobilizing congregation members past and present, as well as fellow alumni of the church's attached elementary school. We'd like to hold some kind of fundraising event to help with the reconstruction effort.

Obviously there are many venues for events which are not bars. And there may be other hitches involved with hosting an event in a bar. That's not really the question I have though.

My question is whether it would be appropriate to hold some kind of alumni mixer/happy hour in a bar, charge a cover, maybe do some other fundraising at the event (a raffle? silent auction?), and donate the proceeds to the church.

This is nothing for me; I'm young and I live in the big city where this would not be seen as strange at all. I'm also a political liberal who considers myself largely agnostic at this point. But most of the currently active congregation members are elderly. And it's a small conservative town in the South. So I just want to get a read from Mefites outside my City Girl bubble as to whether this would be offensive in any way.

Things to note:

It's an Episcopal church. We're not known for our teetotaling ways.

It's in southern Louisiana, which has a far more liberal attitude to drinking than the rest of the Bible Belt.

Getting in touch with local bands, bar/venue owners, and a group that puts on the local Downtown After Dark events was suggested to me by an older friend of the family who, while not a church member, is more familiar with the cultural lay of the land.

Advice? Support? Alternative ideas that would be more appropriate (but hopefully still youthful and fun)?
posted by Sara C. to Society & Culture (19 answers total)
I would go. If I were hosting the event, I would check with the church leadership before doing anything else. That being said a, adult only, mixer should be fine. If you know a classy place that would be perfect size and atmosphere wise; then yes. If you know the bartender in a back of the woods drunken dive bar, not so much.
posted by Felex at 5:07 PM on November 11, 2010

I'm a zillionth generation Episcopalian and former vestry member. I say go for it.
posted by pointystick at 5:22 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

And let me add, I am so sorry to hear about the fire.
(also you may want to ask the rector)
posted by pointystick at 5:23 PM on November 11, 2010

I am planning a call to the church and/or rector tomorrow. I've been assuming they have had better things to do today than field calls from hipsters.
posted by Sara C. at 5:27 PM on November 11, 2010

It's totally fine, I wouldn't even bat an eyelash. Honest.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:30 PM on November 11, 2010

Jesus loved to drink, and Henry VIII drank a lot. I myself have drank with my Episcopalian clergy friends in bars noted for ill repute. I can't imagine it would raise eyebrows.
posted by incessant at 5:36 PM on November 11, 2010

Yeah, I'd think it'd be fine. One of my coworkers (20-something male, like myself) is devout Catholic, runs a large bible study group, and considering entering the seminary. He's a total beer snob as well.
posted by mnemonic at 5:37 PM on November 11, 2010

Before I read your post my thought was, "Sure, if its an Episcopal church." I once attended a very small Episcopal church in conservative northern New Hampshire. The altar guild ladies took their retreat at the Foxwoods Casino and no one raised an eyebrow.
posted by partner at 5:41 PM on November 11, 2010

Well, it's not a Baptist church. Check with the rector but I'm betting there'd be no problem.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2010

Oh dear. I'm sorry to hear that.

My thoughts would be that any funds for rebuilding will be greatly appreciated, regardless of where there were collected.

I think Jesus said, 'wherever 2 or more are gathered in my name, I will be.' so, go for it.
posted by bilabial at 6:08 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Unless there is a drink minimum, no worries.
posted by AugustWest at 6:11 PM on November 11, 2010

Data point for Christian+Bar friendliness - Local Catholic young adult ministries hold what is called "Theology on Tap". We had a version at my (Jesuit) university.

Jesus changed water into wine. REALLY GOOD wine.

I'd say go for it!
posted by kellygrape at 7:15 PM on November 11, 2010

Data point: A big Catholic church in town has a block party fundraiser every year for which Michelob is a major sponsor.
posted by lakeroon at 8:20 PM on November 11, 2010

lakeroon, that is so cool! If the congregation of our church skewed a little younger/hipper and a little less octogenarian, I'd totally want to steal that idea!
posted by Sara C. at 8:40 PM on November 11, 2010

Before I read your post my thought was, "Sure, if its an Episcopal church."

I was raised in an Episcopal church and had the exact same thought. Down here the joke is what's the difference between an Episcopalian (or Catholic) and a Baptist? The Episcopalian/Catholic will say "Hi" to you in the liquor store. So check with the rector, but I bet it would be fine.
posted by TedW at 5:04 AM on November 12, 2010

Traditions that tend to frown on drinking:
- Baptistic churches
- Anabaptist churches (Amish, Mennonite, etc.)
- Many non-denominational churches, though YMMV
- About half of the broadly Evangelical world, though again, YMMV

Traditions that are fine with drinking (though still discourage drunkenness):
- Catholicism
- Orthodoxy
- Lutheranism
- Presbyterianism/Reformed
- Episcopalianism/Anglicanism

Methodism is kind of a crap shoot. The mainline denomination is fine with it, but some of the more Evangelical offshoots of Wesleyanism go their own road.

So yeah, I think you'd be fine. I'd be more concerned with finding a classy venue than anything else.
posted by valkyryn at 6:05 AM on November 12, 2010

I was coming in here to say "Not unless you're in southern Louisiana".
posted by Carbolic at 7:37 AM on November 12, 2010

Given that some Episcopalians in my Southern hometown have been known to refer to themselves as "Whiskeypalians," my vote would be go for it.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:39 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whether or not the church in question frowns upon drinking, I can't think of anything more appropriate than this. This is a great idea.
posted by rahnefan at 10:44 AM on November 12, 2010

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