As the Rector of St Clement’s I have met a variety of responses from people when they discover our church holds a Beer Festival. Some people are surprised. Most people are delighted. Only once have I be told I am a hypocrite and it is “disgusting” (whatever that may mean). But it does beg the question why does a church run a Beer Festival? Is really what we should be about?
To my mind there are three main reasons…
First, St Clement’s believes itself a church for Chorlton community. We are here to serve the people of Chorlton, regardless of their religious beliefs. We believe part of our mission is to be and to form meaningful community. The Beer Festival provides one opportunity to gather people together, for friendships to form (and I have baptized at least one baby whose parents met at the Beer Festival!), and for neighbours to meet up. It is part of the rich tapestry of events and occasions that make Chorlton the place it is. It is in wholesome and loving relationships, of every type, that we catch a glimpse of God’s love.
Second, I hope that a few false impressions of Christianity are gently challenged. There have been too many occasions when the church been held captive by the puritans who equate godliness with misery. The image of the church as being only interested in rules, those “thou shalt nots”, still exists in many people’s mind. The Beer Festival is a wonderful corrective to the idea that Christianity is all about doom and gloom. It is a celebration of our community and our culture. We seek to continue the work of Jesus who said he came “to bring life to the full.”
Third, let’s be honest, it is a fantastic fundraiser. Like every charity St Clement’s struggles financially. The Beer Festival is a massive support to the maintenance of our building as a community resource and, in some sense, subsidizes the many other events which happen in and around St Clements. We are extremely grateful to all the organizers and volunteers, from St Clement’s, CAMRA, and the community, who work so hard to make the Festival happen.
The Revd Ken Flood
Rector, St Clement’s Church, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy
To find out more about St Clement’s, visit the church’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/stclementchurchchorlton/