Is It Legitimate to Leave a Church Because of the Coffee?

One of the rude awakenings I received recently on Titusonenine was that it was the policy of the blog that “…comments requiring, encouraging or intimating that other readers must or should leave or join a particular church are well known to be against T19 comment policy.”  I was aware that this was StandFirm’s policy, and commented on same, as they had elucidated this for all to see.  When I had the bad taste to point out that StandFirm had made this clearer and thought that TitusOneNine should do the same, my comment was deleted, at which point I decided to take my leave–for a while at least–from Titusonenine.

That may prove a tactical error, given that the Diocese of South Carolina–where Kendall Harmon is no less than Canon Theologian–has become the focus of attention in the Anglican/Episcopal world.  Or maybe not: some of what I’ve had to say in the past hasn’t sat well with a few in the Diocese, and I’ve got problems aplenty here.  Whatever the Diocese (and their Bishop Mark Lawrence) does is just about guaranteed to make no one happy, and their position is unenviable.

Now I think that any blog or website has the right to set its own terms and conditions.  But I also think that those terms and conditions should be spelled out in a “permanent” (to the extent that anything on the Internet is permanent) way, as I do here.  But I have to admit that the Elves stretched their credibility to the limit when they stated that “…comments such as the following would be problematical…you must join church B because they have nicer liturgy, vestments, taste, more poor people, fewer poor people, women priests, male priests,  better coffee…”

Better coffee?  That brings up several points.

  1. I’m a part of a church of coffee hounds.  That in part is because our people are not allowed to drink alcohol, something that has never stood in the way of progress (?) in the Episcopal Church.  (As my Episcopal priest second year Latin teacher used to say, when four “Whiskeypalians” get together, there’s always a fifth.)  The morning coffee is a ritual for many of our ministers and lay people alike.  So I agree that coffee is important.
  2. It’s not easy to spend a lot of time in a place where the coffee is deficient.  At the ministry I work at, I have to deal with the fact that my superior is a Dunkin’ Donuts fan, which means we’re forced to imbibe that on a regular basis.  When I’m on the road with him, his GPS is programmed to find the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, and that’s no fun for this Starbucks fan either.  When Leonard Sweet came to speak at our department’s General Assembly function, it wasn’t easy to admit to the author of The Gospel According to Starbucks that our ship was captained by a DD addict.
  3. Alcohol notwithstanding, the “Sunday morning coffee” is a central ritual in the life of most Anglican/Episcopal churches.  Evangelical churches have traditionally tended to concentrate the joe in Sunday School, but Episcopal churches use the coffee (usually after service) to greet new visitors.  So its quality and blend are critical to the church’s growth.  I think that Episcopal Churches have many more pressing reasons for their decline, but given the seriousness of the situation I wouldn’t rule anything out.
  4. Some churches have appropriate types of coffee.  For example, cowboy churches should have cowboy coffee.  Cowboy coffee, as a friend of mine from the Hill Country (of Texas) explained, is made by dumping the grounds in the bottom of a deep pan and hitting same rapidly with boiling water.  It’s good to the next to the last drop.

These and other weighty considerations lead me to three conclusions.

First, although I can’t say that I’d pass up a church because of the coffee, good joe is an important part of a church’s presentation to those who visit, and shouldn’t be overlooked in these times.  (And that not only includes the brand, but avoiding bad habits such as allowing the stuff to be boiled down to the grounds in the coffeemaker, etc.)

Second, StandFirm and TitusOneNine may not want to broach the subject of changing churches, but I do.  So comment away along these lines; I only ask that you be sweet.  In fact, one of the most popular pieces on this site is Think Before You Convert, which weighs the virtues of Anglican vs. Roman Catholic churches.  So their loss is my gain.

Third, IMHO the Elves need to lighten up on the subject of coffee.  Personally I’d love to see a good comment volley over coffee, as opposed to a lot of the things we see on Anglican blogs.  But as long as the Elves “hang tough” on these issues, we’ll just need to sip our joe in peace.

7 Replies to “Is It Legitimate to Leave a Church Because of the Coffee?”

  1. Thank you for asking us to note who should go where and why. I sort of wish SF and T19 would loosen up on that policy, if only to give newcomers to the blogs a chance to read that – though the grass may not be really greener, it is OK across the fence.
    Every time I read or hear a clergy person say all should stay in THE church…I think, and so, when are you rejoining Rome (or the Orhodox)?

    Speaking of the Orthodox- they are a viable alternative to Episopal (of any flavor) and Rome. There are Orthodox churches with services in English (Antiochian, some Russian churches). The two I’ve attended use lots of incense, chant, wear vestments (all the externals that make some Anglican hearts burst with joy).

    What I like best about the Orthodox- they are serious about worshipping God. It’s not about us, it’s about Him.

    I’ve tried AMIA because I thought I had to be Anglican- but discovered the services felt too people oriented and the clergy seemed to be drifting off to generic Protestant.

    I’ve tried Rome and the hierarchy seems to try to be grounded but the American churches are full of Americans (LOL). Enough RC laity are liberal in their thinking and I just don’t want to go to church and ‘discuss’ the issues that have brought the Episcopal Church to this quagmire.

    I encourage folks to try the Orthodox- read the Orthodox web sites, visit the churches- they are different- for my spouse they are too ethnic (but I’m meeting more and more former Episcopalians in the Orthodox churches). They are grounded in Scripture, they are the ‘first’ church if you think Rome ‘split’ from Constantinople.

    No, the Orthodox aren’t perfect- the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox went through a spell of suing each other over buildings in the 1930’s and 40’s (which made me snicker considering the current legal shenanigans of TEC). There is nothing new under the sun….

    Thanks for asking us to note why one might consider changing coffee pots and who might have better (or different) coffee….


  2. Katie, your comments bring a few things to mind.

    I’ve done enough church changing in my time to have some ideas as to what’s important along these lines:

    I think it’s supremely ironic that the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox were suing each other over buildings when, back in the “old country,” Stalin was blowing churches up:

    You might also find this of interest:

    The fact that the “the American churches are full of Americans” is our #1 problem.


  3. Thanks for the links.

    The Carpatho-Russians weren’t really Russian but closer to Hungarian and Greek. The ethnic conflicts are fascinating. What I like is they fight over earthly stuff not theology – which is what Fredericka was trying to tell you. The Orthodox are serious about worship- that draws them together even if they fight over the ethnicity stuff.

    I was Roman for 21 years, Episcopalian for 28 years, dithering for 8 and now paddling toward Constantinople.

    My analogy for many years was denominations are like chairs- the point of the Christian denomination is to bring you to the Father through Jesus. The point of a chair is to keep your behind off the floor. There are lots of chairs from a simple log to an ornate throne- the successful one keeps you off the ground. Which chair you select is a matter of taste and resources. Christian denominations used to have enough in common (leading one to the Father through Christ) that all the extra stuff was a matter of ‘style’.

    Yes, I know this is a simplistic analogy with holes a Mack truck could go through….but it used to make sense to folks dithering between one denomination and another. Now ‘Christian’ denominations don’t neccessarily try to lead one to the Father through Jesus….

    Thanks again for sharing the links.


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