Rev Chantal Noppen (pictured above with husband, Tony Harbottle-Noppen) told Premier that St Cuthbert’s in Sunderland had received a letter of complaint about Saturday evening’s Beer and Hymns event.
The team vicar of North Wearside parish said: “We have prayed about it, it’s not like we’re just deciding to throw all integrity and morals out of the window.
“I actually think if the person in question [who wrote the letter] came along, they might realise they may have misunderstood.”
Concerned that congregations are not as effective in engaging with their local communities as they were in the past, Rev Noppen has encouraged parishioners to “think outside the box” in reaching people reluctant to try church.
Rev Noppen went on to say: “Once you’ve been to a Beer and Hymns event, you realise that it’s not just about having a drink.
“It really is about doing church is a different way, in a kind of very low-key way, and it’s much more spiritual than people expect, often.”
The annual Christian arts festival, Greenbelt established the idea of Beer and Hymns several years ago and churches across the country have since replicated it.
Rev Noppen: “Churches are realising that people aren’t necessarily connecting with us totally as well as we would like on a Sunday morning but people are very happy to still go to the pub and meet up and chat and hang out.”
Rev Noppen, who chose to include a Beer and Hymns event at her own wedding last year, held similar events during her previous post, in the Diocese of Newcastle.
Click here to listen to Premier’s Alex Williams speaking with Rev Chantal Noppen:
A vicar in Tyne and Wear has responded to criticism of her latest bid to welcome new worshippers, saying a pub-inspired gathering “is not a den of iniquity”.