When you think about which venues help to create community, it is often places like the church, thepub or the community centre.
These are places where people go because they want to spend time together.
In the villages where I work, the church fete and the country show are still important social occasions. So it makes sense for the local church and the local pub to work together.
Both are places where we deliberately make time to get away from work or domestic tasks, where we can reflect on the purpose of life, and where others also have time to chat.
We recently held a service in the Cricketers Inn at Curdridge, which is not far from St Peter’s Church and is one of the few other meeting places in the village.
Our church members were delighted to worship God in a different venue. We had about five new people join us, who we’d never seen before – possibly because they felt more comfortable in a more ‘neutral’ venue. And the landlady Dianne joined us for communion.
The sun was shining, which helps, and we even managed to find a space for Little Rocks – our children’s group – to learn more about God in their own way. It also meant our after-service coffee turned into an after-service drink from the bar, which I appreciated.
Some people might wonder why we would deliberately meet in a pub rather than in our beautiful church. I actually think it’s good sometimes to take ‘church’ to where people already happen to be meeting.
It helps people understand that spiritual things can be part of everyday life, not just confined to a particular building. I hope it also conveys that we’re there to serve all those in our local community, not just those who happen to turn up on a Sunday.
People still find it strange to see a vicar in a pub too. So if I turn up in a dog collar, I’ll probably have more fruitful conversations with villagers over a pint in the Cricketers Inn than I would anywhere else.
We’re discussing where and when we might do something similar, so do look out for us next time you have a pint!
•ST PETER’S CHURCH, Church Lane, Curdridge, SO32 2DR
Sunday service: 10am every Sunday