On this sunny, Friday Colorado afternoon at the Gilded Goat brewery a group of Mennonites have gathered to discuss their faith as well as preference of hops. It may seem like an odd brew, but these Mennonites feel right at home at a local taphouse just as they do a church. On the first Friday of the month, members of the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship (FCMF) in Northern Colorado meet at a local brewery, tap house, or bar to taste libations and discuss religion and politics and family and Mennonites and pacifism and… well, everything. Regular attendee, Mark, sums up why he comes: “Great people and beer. Good theology and good philosophy.”
Years ago, pastor Steve Ramer and resident church member Geoff Krall decided to start offering an alternative (or addition) to the usual Sunday church experience. Engaging a younger (and younger at heart) crowd is a difficult thing these days in the church world; these two dudes have found an engaging and relaxing way to entice people from all walks of life to participate in a church activity. Steve likes to remind folks, “Mennonites come from a long line of Germanic tribes, where the brewing of beer was part and parcel with the culture.”
Each month Steve and Geoff come up with a rough outline or topic for Mennopints and invite everyone to join up for beer, wine, whiskey, and/or non-alcoholic hydration on a Friday evening, and what happens? A cocktail of faith, philosophy, politics, infused with the spirit of camaraderie. There are Mennopints regulars and those that dabble – all are welcome and drinking in moderation encourages deep and open conversations. It’s a communion of sorts that lets people relax and put judgments aside. Where else can one debate the morality of World War II alongside the virtues of sour ale? Richy tells us, “Mennopints for me is one of the only places that I find solace in combining my political thought and my religious thought in a casual yet thoughtful way… It just works. It’s about the people. It has nothing to do with the drinks. If you want to get good people to talk about serious things and it just happens to be in a bar, why not?”
Consider this platform for open conversations and community with younger folks that might not be interested in the normative Sunday morning church experience as their only source of faith exploration. Break out of the mold and start your own Mennopints group! Cheers!