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08.30.2008

Church Attendance Down? Try Installing a Wine Bar.

At one point in the glorified history of Western civilization, people were beaten or berated if they failed to show up for religious services. You didn't simply put money in the collection box, it was taken from you. But we're in the 21st century, and the church must rely less on force and more on marketing if it wants to hold onto its market share in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

In a move that may have been inspired by scripture itself ("Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make men drunk. Wine drunk with moderation is the joy of soul and the heart. Ecclesiastes 10:19") The Church of England recently suggested that there might be a very easy way to get people to visit one of its cathedrals more often: install a wine bar.

Of course, this wasn't some stuffy bishop suggesting that a glass of Chardonnay under the light of stained glass windows might be good for the soul. Rather, this was the "director of hospitality and welcome," whose job, it seems, is to "rejuvenate a the brand" of the Church, which has seen a gradually dwindling stream of visitors to its Cathedral in Birmingham.

I'm all for this sort of approach. The world would be a better place if we all sat down and had a glass of wine with each other more often, and I can think of a lot worse places to do it than some of England's beautiful cathedrals.

In fact, this could be a whole new frontier for converting England's beer drinkers into faithful followers of the grape. France, with its dismally dropping population of younger wine drinkers would be wise to consider such a move as well. Even the Catholic church could find an angle in here, and the the process they could significantly increase the quality of that communion wine.

Presumably there will be some limit to the amount of drinking one can do in such an establishment, however. Dancing on the pews does not seem like it would go over very well.
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