By Andre Jones
So, a priest walks into a bar…and buys it. In a case of truth being stranger than fiction, A Norwich, England church recently purchased a local bar, hoping to reach the community – through beer.
St. Thomas’s Church purchased the pub next door for approximately £500,000 ($650,700 USD), after vicar Rev. Ian Dyble decided it would be the best way to spread the Word. Dyble recalls seeing a vicar tend bar many years ago. “It was in the Lake District on holiday, in my pre-vicar days. I remember thinking what a good idea it was to engage in the community in that way, because as we all know, people’s interest in church is waning. It’s a way for us to reach out into the community,” he explained.
The pub, which is ironically – and fittingly – named “The Mitre”, was listed for sale 18 months prior after a brief stint as a Chinese takeout spot. The church purchased the spot after a fundraising drive. Though, as a pub, alcohol will be served, Dyble insists that alcohol is only a very small part of the church’s overall initiative. “It’s also for people’s perception of the Church to be changed. I would hope it would be a pleasant surprise for people. Jesus turned water into wine, he did it at a wedding party,” he pointed out.
The pub is set to open on Monday. It will serve bottled beer, wine and will initially be open only during daytime hours. “It’s not about drinking, it’s about doing things for enjoyment rather than addiction and it’s about being responsible, “Dyble said. Closing time will be extended to 9pm after a few weeks of being open for business.
Proceeds from the unconventional church holding will go to fund the church’s charitable causes including support for the homeless and international development to name a few. Dyble is hopeful that the pub will become a community center of sorts, where people can meet for anything from clubs to classes.
“Christians can have fun,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t enjoy it responsibly. It’s a public home, not a public house.”