Mixing Spiritual Comforts
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Perhaps the last person you want to see at the bar is your minister.
Or maybe that's just who you need.
Chuck Kish, 44, a senior pastor at Bethel Assembly of God, is launching a program at a local pub to put chaplains in bars. They'll offer help to folks who might be there for reasons other than relaxing and socializing.
Kish said he and the chaplains he trains will not be there to preach against "the evils of drinking" or to evangelize.
"We're simply going to be there to help anybody who wants it. Sometimes people really just want somebody they can talk to who is not going to be judgmental but be sympathetic," Kish said from the dining room of the Market Cross Pub.
"Some people may think this would be a strange place to find a chaplain. But we need to go where the people are."
Kish said chaplains will work in teams, one man and one woman.
About five years ago, Kish and a few others became a corps of volunteer chaplains for local police departments. He said putting chaplains where people are under stress can help.
"Sometimes, just having a chaplain present can de-escalate things," he said. "Sometimes people come to a bar because they're really hurting about something. Bartenders and the owners are pretty good about reading their customers, some of whom they've known for years.
"So on the first Friday of every month, from 9 p.m. to midnight, we plan to be here so somebody can say, 'You know, there's a chaplain over there. Maybe you'd like to talk to him -- or her.' "