It’s a move that wouldn’t sound unusual to Trappist monks, but certainly sounds unorthodox by modern American standards: Santa Cruz, California’s Greater Purpose Community Church is currently transforming a former bookstore in a brewery/church, where it plans to brew beer that it can serve during services.
NBC Bay Area reports the building will house the brewery, which will be open to the public, as well as Sunday services. Construction should take about a year.
“I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if a church could figure out a way to make a product where they split the profits with local community service organizations, we were like ‘Hey, we love beer; we love making beer; why not do a brewery?’” pastor Chris VanHall told NBC. Plus, the beer might act to lubricate parishioners’ hearts and minds a bit. “People can not only listen to a progressive take on theology but can also engage in conversation.”
After recently selling its brick-and-mortar building, Greater Purpose has been meeting for Scripture study in a bar. VanHall tells NBC it’s been a great fit, and that there’s nothing in the Bible that prohibits adults from enjoying alcohol responsible. He also says the church will donate 30-60 percent of beer profits to charity.
To this beer lover, it sounds like a harkening back to the mission of Trappist breweries, where Belgian and French monks brewed beer for their own consumption and sometimes for sale to sustain the charitable work of the monastery. Trappist breweries exist to this day, and are protected by their own legal appellation: only beers brewed under the direct supervision of monks on the monastery’s property may be considered Trappist. Westvleteren 12, considered one of the best and most sought-after beers in the world, remains a modern example of this tradition.
Greater Purpose, you’ve got quite the reputation to live up to.