ON Monday, Julian Mann wrote in TCW about enjoying a pub lunch at The Wheatsheaf in Beetham, south Cumbria. He complimented the staff for their sensitive and unobtrusive handling of the government’s Covid regulations, proving that those working in the hospitality industry don’t have to be jobsworths over it.
The warm welcome he received there led him to float the idea that church communities who are banned from taking Holy Communion in their churches could gather in pubs and celebrate the Lord’s Supper together at their tables.
Not long after publication Julian received this email from the owner of The Wheatsheaf, Sally Schrieber, giving him the thumbs-up:
‘What a wonderful article, I really appreciate you choosing our establishment to write about and recommend to your readers. It certainly has been a tricky situation to manage, we have strived to maintain a comfortable atmosphere for our guests whilst complying with all the guidelines, it is just wonderful to read that we achieved this and that you enjoyed your experience with us.
‘We would certainly welcome you and the members of your church to dine with us, we have large function room upstairs which would be private for you to relax in. There are of course guidelines in place for events like this, which I could run through with you if you would be interested.
‘Thank you again, I was thrilled to read your article this morning and I hope you don’t mind if I share it with our followers on our social media pages.’
Commenters also welcomed the suggestion. Tee2 wrote: ‘What a delightful idea, breaking bread at the pub. I think it would prove very popular with Christians unwilling to be muzzled in church.’
David wrote: ‘That’s an excellent idea, the remembrance of The Lord’s Supper at a mask-free venue.’
Some readers wondered if small groups could meet in houses, but indoor meetings are restricted to ‘bubbles’ or two households. Up to six from different households may meet in a garden. However there does not appear to be a restriction on numbers dining in a pub or restaurant providing they are at separate tables.
Singing in church is restricted to professionals, but there does not seem to be any rule about singing in restaurants, so as Essex Man suggested: ‘Perhaps a song or two as well from your hymnbook?’
So maybe TCW has hit on the way ahead for church-goers who have been abandoned by their leadership. Eat, drink, and say a prayer. And no one can stop you.