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    Taverns tapped for religion
    Chippewa Falls preacher invites drinkers to study Bible, beers in hand

    Associated Press

    EAU CLAIRE, Wis. A brewing idea by a Chippewa Falls, Wis., preacher will become a reality next month when he holds a nine-week Bible study at taverns in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

    “This is our culture,” said the Rev. Perry Polnaszek. “Rather than trying to deny that this is where people are, we want to reach out to them.”

    The discussion series called “Theology on Tap” even has a sponsorship with Guinness. The Irish beermaker is promoting its nonalcoholic beer, Kaliber.

    Wayne Gifford, 59, of Chippewa Fall, doesn’t attend Fellowship Church, but he stopped by for a free happy hour to promote the series last week.

    “It’s a good concept,” he said. “You usually don’t put the two together, church and beer.”

    Fellowship Church member Caleb Gerdes said Christians must welcome all people, including drinkers.

    “We live in Wisconsin, where drinking is a state pastime,” the 20-year-old Chippewa Falls resident said.

    The church has taken some criticism for mixing booze and the Bible, but Polnaszek says they’re trying to do things “the right way and for the right reasons.”

    Polnaszek is no stranger to the bar scene. He grew up in Thorp, where his father owned the bowling alley. He knows alcohol is entrenched Wisconsin culture.

    He said if drinkers are afraid to visit God’s house, he’ll bring God to them wherever that may be, even if it’s at a bar.

    “We want to reach people who normally wouldn’t pass the threshold of a traditional church,” he said.

    The series will center around the PBS video “The Question of God,” which examines the lives of psychologist Sigmund Freud and novelist C.S. Lewis. “We want a group forum,” Polnaszek said. “We believe the Gospel will stand above all comers.”

    Participants are welcome to drink, in moderation. Nonalcoholic beer will be available, too.

    “Anybody can drink anything they want,” Polnaszek said. “We just don’t want any bingeing or any fights.”


    Theology on Tap started in Chicago many years ago and has been replicated all over the country. There are several happening in the Twin Cities througout the year.

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