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Question: Is it OK to have alcohol on Church grounds?
Alcohol is of the Devil! (No) - 0 (0%)
Monks make alcohol! (Yes) - 15 (48.4%)
Depends on the occasion - 15 (48.4%)
Other (Please explain) - 1 (3.2%)
Total Voters: 31

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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: July 20, 2007, 01:01:36 AM »

 Howdy y'all,

A few years back, a friend and I were discussing alcohol in the church; specifically during social events. He had visited Orthodox churches that had alcohol available during special events or various other social occasions. I had never been exposed to this having been raised in Assemblies of God. To me, alcohol at church seems counter-intuitive, though in the past I have brought beer to Pascha. I recently asked my Priest about the issue and he seemed a little cautious, but stopped short of banning it altogether. The reason he's cautious, he explained, is two-fold. 1) There are a number of Eastern Europeans who attend our parish and he said that he's been told that alcoholism was once rampant in that part of the world and has destroyed many families (I can personally vouch for this as my Romanian girlfriend's family has been affected by alcohol) and that he's sensitive to their past. 2) Our parish is in the Buckle of the Bible Belt and is very conservative. He's concerned that if someone were to visit the church and see alcohol, they might get the wrong impression. Personally, I have no problem with drinking a beer at social events, but I've come to see how important it is (to paraphrase St. Paul) to 'not make our brother stumble'. I hope that this question doesn't spark any controversy; that's one reason I tried to make the questions humorous. I'm interested in hearing some thoughts on this issue.

 In Christ,

 Gabriel 
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 01:12:41 AM by Jibrail Almuhajir » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2007, 01:08:38 AM »

Somehow a 'dry' wedding reception in the church community center doesn't fit the MBFGW model.

Answer: Depends
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2007, 01:44:10 AM »

Gabriel,

I think it is fine to have champagne, wine or beer for various occasions (weddings, baptisms, chrismations, Pascha celebrations etc.). Don't forget, Christ and his disciples drank wine. Christ even turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

We are not Baptists.Shocked   We are Orthodox.Cool  It is our custom to celebrate by making delicious ethnic foods, providing wine, and playing ethnic music for our dancing. But I guess anyone who grew up in strict Protestant traditions might have some issues with these customs (drinking and dancing). A few of the ex-evangelicals in my parish were relieved they could finally drink wine and dance to celebrate happy occasions when they became Orthodox.

I realize some eastern Europeans and Russians have drinking problems but middle-easterners and Greeks tend to not have these problems from what I have observed. Maybe the warmer Mediterranean climate discouraged our ancestors from drinking too much.
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2007, 01:48:00 AM »

Several Paschas ago, one of our elderly ladies got drunk on distilled spirits, passed out, and ended up going to the hospital--she's still alive today.  Ever since then our parish council has banned consumption of distilled liquors during church social functions.  They originally decided to ban all alcohol, but some of our Eastern European members got so pi**ed off that they left, which kinda forced us to ease up our restriction.  Now we allow wine and beer, but nothing stronger, and then only for special parish celebrations such as (but not restricted to) Pascha and Pentecost.

After my experience of the above, I still agree that beer and wine--I'm personally okay with harder stuff such as vodka, but I must obey my parish rules when I'm at church--are totally cool for church socials.  However, I do want to emphasize that moderation is the key, especially when alcohol is involved.  The Church, in keeping with the Scriptures, must take a hard stand against drunkenness.  In addition, a parish's liability insurance may place some restrictions on when and how alcohol is consumed on church property.  By the laws of some states, a church can be held liable in a lawsuit if someone gets drunk during a church function and maims/kills someone while driving to his next destination.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 01:50:15 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2007, 02:28:03 AM »


I think it is fine to have champagne, wine or beer for various occasions (weddings, baptisms, chrismations, Pascha celebrations etc.). Don't forget, Christ and his disciples drank wine. Christ even turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

We are not Baptists.Shocked   We are Orthodox.Cool 
I'm totally on the same page as you.  Wink

However, I do want to emphasize that moderation is the key, especially when alcohol is involved.  The Church, in keeping with the Scriptures, must take a hard stand against drunkenness.  In addition, a parish's liability insurance may place some restrictions on when and how alcohol is consumed on church property.  By the laws of some states, a church can be held liable in a lawsuit if someone gets drunk during a church function and maims/kills someone while driving to his next destination.
There's some great wisdom here; spiritual and legal ramifications go hand in hand in today's litigious environment. BTW, PtA, I find your new avatar disgusting! It looks like it has mange and in serious need of several hygienical items, not to mention clothes. It's mannerisms are reprehensible and offensive.  And yet I can't look away.  Cheesy
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 02:30:10 AM by Jibrail Almuhajir » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2007, 02:33:48 AM »

Jibrail Almuhajir

I don't think it's necessary to have alcohol (we didn't have any at our wedding reception, in the hall of the Orthodox Church we got married in), but I can understand why most people would find it a positive addition to the experience. I can also understand the possible issues with abusing alcohol that some might have, and what you're getting at about scandalizing people who hold to the "alcohol in the Bible was grape juice" belief. I guess maybe it's best left to a case by case basis.
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2007, 02:38:00 AM »

And it goes almost without saying...the Lord's first miracle

Water into wine at a wedding.  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2007, 02:46:19 AM »

BTW, PtA, I find your new avatar disgusting! It looks like it has mange and in serious need of several hygienical items, not to mention clothes. It's mannerisms are reprehensible and offensive.  And yet I can't look away.  Cheesy
Yeah, I need to teach that troll to stop picking his nose. Tongue
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 02:46:46 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2007, 08:31:52 AM »

In the Vesperal Psalm in which we praise God for the wonder of Creation, we also praise God for: "Καί οίνος εύφραίνει καρδίαν ανθρώπου." ["And wine which gladdens human hearts." (Psalm 103:15 LXX)]
We praise God not only for the fruit of the vine, but for the psychotropic effect it has on us when we use it properly.
The use of wine has been highly ritualized, even in Jewish times. And we continue to ritualize it, even in non-religious ways. Every year, I attend the formal reunion dinner of my old University Skiing Club which survived an avalanche in 1997, and part of the formalities include the Loving Cup Ceremony with mulled wine.
The use of wine has also been ritualized in the Orthodox Church outside of the context of the Divine Liturgy. We bless bread, wheat, wine and oil in the Artoclasia (Bread-breaking ceremony, called Litia in Russian) at Vespers on the eve of Major Feasts. Partaking of these was originally intended to strengthen the Faithful for the All-night Vigil.
The Greek Orthodox custom of "συγχωρία" (sin-chor-RI-a) is another example. Before a major Feast or the beginning of a Fast, wine and bread are offered for partaking in the Narthex together with Kollyva (boiled wheat). By partaking of the bread and wine, you signify your forgiveness of the Living, and by partaking of the Kollyva, you signify your forgiveness of the Dead.
Another place where alcohol is socially ritualized in Greek Orthodox custom is following the vigil for the Dead before the funeral. After the Prayers, a glass of wine or cognac is offered to the mourners, and having attended many an Orthodox funeral, I can personally testify to the wisdom of the practice. After the Vigil for a departed loved one, you are often in that awful space of time knowing that the next step is the funeral and burial of someone you have loved, and it almost feels as though your heart is about to burst. This, of all the times wine is ritually used, is definitely the time I really appreciate fully that "wine gladdens human hearts". Sharing a glass of wine with those who also loved the one whose funeral you will face the next day is life-affirming and is a very bonding thing to do, not to mention the brief relief from the overwhelming grief which a glass of wine provides.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 08:46:14 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2007, 08:46:57 AM »

In my almost two decades in the church (has it really been that long?) and  being in 5 parishes (2 Greek, 2 Antiochian, 1 ROCOR), at most functions within the physical property of the church, wine is often allowed in most Orthodox Parishes.  Church Functions outside the parish such as a Patronal Feast held at a hotel, there may be an open Bar, held under the aegeis of the Caterer or hotel, not the Church.  During most Ethnic Festivals  native wines are served as a part of the Ethnic culture and are well recieved.  At some parish picnics limited alcohol is usually allowed but  normally that it wine or Beer.

In my current parish, we have a convert priest who himself does not drink except when he partakes of communion and the after-communion.  He has not set limits on alcohol use except at convert/community activities. For example we are not an ethnic but basically a convert community, so we do not have an ethnic festival instead we invite the community to a barbeque and open house.  We do not serve alcohol at this function nor allow parishioners to bring any in for the activity.This is done to not make our visitors uncomfortable and assure that no one in the community over indulges and embarrasses themselves or the Church. At Feasts and other special days (weddings, Baptisms, and funerals) wine and beer are allowed when food is being served.

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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2007, 10:44:38 AM »

Go to a Serbian Orthodox church hall and your questions will be answered.
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2007, 10:48:54 AM »

I'm totally on the same page as you.  Wink
There's some great wisdom here; spiritual and legal ramifications go hand in hand in today's litigious environment. BTW, PtA, I find your new avatar disgusting! It looks like it has mange and in serious need of several hygienical items, not to mention clothes. It's mannerisms are reprehensible and offensive.  And yet I can't look away.  Cheesy

Moderation is key. I think part of the problem with the strict rules of some Protestant denominations are they cause overwhelming feelings of guilt when someone breaks them. These rules to me seem unrealistic and draconian. I often wonder if such strict prohibitions lead to abuse because they are considered forbidden fruit. I think the Orthodox perspective is more human and real. We were meant to celebrate life's occasions with wine, music, and dance. I grew up drinking wine with family members and so I never viewed alcohol as something taboo. I never had the urge to overindulge because I learned how to drink in the context of happy family or church gatherings.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 11:43:13 AM by Tamara » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2007, 11:02:55 AM »

In the Vesperal Psalm in which we praise God for the wonder of Creation, we also praise God for: "Καί οίνος εύφραίνει καρδίαν ανθρώπου." ["And wine which gladdens human hearts." (Psalm 103:15 LXX)]
We praise God not only for the fruit of the vine, but for the psychotropic effect it has on us when we use it properly.
The use of wine has been highly ritualized, even in Jewish times. And we continue to ritualize it, even in non-religious ways. Every year, I attend the formal reunion dinner of my old University Skiing Club which survived an avalanche in 1997, and part of the formalities include the Loving Cup Ceremony with mulled wine.
The use of wine has also been ritualized in the Orthodox Church outside of the context of the Divine Liturgy. We bless bread, wheat, wine and oil in the Artoclasia (Bread-breaking ceremony, called Litia in Russian) at Vespers on the eve of Major Feasts. Partaking of these was originally intended to strengthen the Faithful for the All-night Vigil.
The Greek Orthodox custom of "συγχωρία" (sin-chor-RI-a) is another example. Before a major Feast or the beginning of a Fast, wine and bread are offered for partaking in the Narthex together with Kollyva (boiled wheat). By partaking of the bread and wine, you signify your forgiveness of the Living, and by partaking of the Kollyva, you signify your forgiveness of the Dead.
Another place where alcohol is socially ritualized in Greek Orthodox custom is following the vigil for the Dead before the funeral. After the Prayers, a glass of wine or cognac is offered to the mourners, and having attended many an Orthodox funeral, I can personally testify to the wisdom of the practice. After the Vigil for a departed loved one, you are often in that awful space of time knowing that the next step is the funeral and burial of someone you have loved, and it almost feels as though your heart is about to burst. This, of all the times wine is ritually used, is definitely the time I really appreciate fully that "wine gladdens human hearts". Sharing a glass of wine with those who also loved the one whose funeral you will face the next day is life-affirming and is a very bonding thing to do, not to mention the brief relief from the overwhelming grief which a glass of wine provides.

Wow! Great info! I learn something new everyday on this site. Thank you George! Tamara Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2007, 11:29:40 AM »

What would trapeza be without slivovich?
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2007, 11:46:31 AM »

Go to a Serbian Orthodox church hall and your questions will be answered.
There is an understatement, LoL!   Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2007, 11:42:58 PM »

scandalizing people who hold to the "alcohol in the Bible was grape juice" belief.
Many Protestants (but not all) hold to this or similar views. I've been told (unsolicited advice) numerous times that the alcoholic content 'back then' was very low compared to today's spirits. I'm no historian but I doubt that to be true. The same folks also hold that, while drinking, it's impossible for the Holy Spirit to be at work in you since you are altering your capacities and numbing yourself. Even some of the Orthodox saints (such as St. Theophan the Recluse) have said something similar. My belief is that if one becomes inebriated(sp?), then clearly a line has been crossed. Wasn't it St. Paul who said 'be not drunk with wine?'. What I'm hearing from most of you, and what I thus far hold to be true, is that moderation is key. A few drinks when celebrating is fine, even encouraged. Falling down sloppy drunk, not so much.

 On a lighter note, I have had Slivovich, Observer. The brand I tried reminded me a little of Tequila and I really didn't care for it. Romanians call it Tuica (tsweeka), and it's essentially the same thing; plum brandy. I've had good and bad Tuica. I'd have to say though, being a Southerner, I prefer bourbon whiskey. More to the point; a 12 year old Kentucky Bourbon called Elijah Craig. MMmmm.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 11:44:53 PM by Jibrail Almuhajir » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2007, 12:32:46 AM »

JIbrail,

I agreed with everythign you said, except... Maker's Mark is the greatest Kentucky Bourbon, not Elijah Craig!  Wink

(Knowing that I may be starting Another Great Alcohol Debate on OC.net, and I'll split the thread if I need to. Sorry!)
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2007, 12:35:37 AM »

I'm a sober alcoholic, and I see nothing wrong w/ serving alcohol at church social events. Once I was involved with planning a birthday celebration for an friend that was being held in the social hall of an Episcopal church, and I was surprised that they didn't allow alcohol. When I asked the vicar why he said that "we are being sensitive to recovering alcoholics". I felt it was more patronizing myself.

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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2007, 01:10:29 AM »

My parish is having their Middle Eastern Festival this week and they serve beer and wine. Besides making lots of money from it there are those who insist on selling it to help people realize that we are not Muslim. I always kinda of just laughed at that logic until I had someone ask me tonight in the church tour when we all converted from Islam. No matter how hard I tried he could not understand that the Middle East was Christian long before it was Muslim.
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« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2007, 02:10:51 AM »

I do remember someone (a former Protestant become Orthodox) who pointed out how funny it was to go to the annual Greek Festival at the local GOA church and see a sign saying, "Do not take beer off church grounds." Cheesy
« Last Edit: July 21, 2007, 02:13:27 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2007, 09:02:18 PM »

I voted "other" because I think it is ok to have alcohol on the church grounds at all times (in fact, I demand it!  Wink  ).However, I don't think that it is ok to consume alcohol at all times. There is a time and place for everything.Beer, Wine, and Champaign should be the norm on non fasting days and feast days. I also think slivovich, tuica, ouzo, etc... are ok during ethnic festivals and perhaps some major feast days. All things in moderation.

Quote
I'm a sober alcoholic, and I see nothing wrong w/ serving alcohol at church social events. Once I was involved with planning a birthday celebration for an friend that was being held in the social hall of an Episcopal church, and I was surprised that they didn't allow alcohol. When I asked the vicar why he said that "we are being sensitive to recovering alcoholics". I felt it was more patronizing myself.

I appreciate your insight. I agree with your assessment.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2007, 09:03:59 PM by Orthodox Bagpiper » Logged

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