Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ministers to serve Theology on Tap

By Ken Hedler
Feb. 3, 2018 at 12:08 a.m.

Pastors Mia Levetan and Nick Setzer, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, join Ryan Mails, St. Michael and All Angels, in speaking about the upcoming event Theology on Tap, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at Oil Horse Brewing Company. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

A group of mostly 30-something ministers has tapped into a way to talk about religion away from the confined settings of a church.

They have dubbed the monthly sessions Theology on Tap, which will meet at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month beginning next week at Oil Horse Brewing Co., a microbrewery at 101 W. Tyler St. in downtown Longview.

"It's one of the things to build community, and it allows people to come and ask questions in a safe and comfortable environment," said John Oglesbee, who co-owns Oil Horse with Jack Buttram.

Oglesbee said he has thought about hosting the meetings since he and Buttram opened Oil Horse two years ago. Buttram is a neighbor of one of the organizers of Theology on Tap, the Rev. Evan Dolive of First Christian Church.

"We needed to find the right time and the right people — and we found them," Oglesbee said.

Theology on Tap is the next phase of a similar effort led by three Presbyterian churches in town. Bible Bootlegger was held for about a year and a half at the Bootlegger Grill before the restaurant closed in November, said Nick Setzer and Mia Levetan. The husband and wife are co-pastors of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

"What we hope to accomplish is to create an atmosphere to discuss God in public and find our similarities," Levetan said. She added no proselytizing will take place.

Levetan, Dolive, Oglesbee and others said each meeting will have a theme with a focus on current events. Group leaders will determine the theme, bring talking points and pose questions, Levetan said.

For instance, the theme of Hurricane Harvey's devastation in South Texas could spark a discussion on "how can we believe in a loving God if he allows national disasters to happen," Oglesbee said.

One aim of Theology on Tap is for the churches in Longview to model Christian unity and model for a community that is "very divisive right now," Dolive said.

Levetan interjected, "Not just Christian unity."

The ministers stressed the sessions will be open to Jewish people, members of other non-Christian faiths and nonbelievers.

"No one will be turned away," Levetan said.

The meetings are free, and participants are under no obligation to buy beer, the ministers said. A food truck will be positioned outside.

They said child care will be provided courtesy of nearby First Presbyterian Church.

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