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Brew for the Soul: Anchorage Pub Hosts Alaska's First 'Beer and Hymns' Event

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Trying to raise money for an organization can be tricky. But one Anchorage group has found a new way to raise funds and provide entertainment: beer and hymns.
Dan Bollerud, Pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, is finally getting a chance to sit down after leading a rousing interfaith chorus through two hours of singing and general merriment. The first Beer and Hymns event in Alaska was held on April 7 at O’Brady’s Beer and Brew, an Irish pub in South Anchorage. Bollerud says he discovered the idea of Beer and Hymns while trying to find Youtube videos of songs for his weekly church newsletter.

“I came across some of these Beer and Hymns events that were happening in England. And I go, ‘Cool! They are really getting into it. They are singing it well. I like this.'”

The challenge, as Bollerud tells it, was in finding the right venue. Originally planning to set-up a tent outside in the church parking lot, he quickly realized that April weather might keep people home. But when Bollerud contacted O’brady’s owner Maurice “Mo” McDonald Jr., the two agreed that it was a good fit.

“Apparently, Dan had gone to a few establishments, but they didn’t see the fit for Beer and Hymns. But he came to me and he and I just started off on a tangent about how the friars brewed the beer…all the original beer for hundreds of years. The abbey ales are the most famous. So, I told him, ‘I know they go hand in hand.’ I told him, ‘Let’s try it! We have nothing to lose.’”

Bollerud sees a Beer and Hymns event as a natural tie-in with his church’s Foodstock program, which is an ongoing concert series benefiting the Lutheran Social Services food bank.

“Number one was beer and hymns. Hello. It’s fun. End of story. I think number two was that I wanted to show the presence of the church out in the community that was not run by the piety police. One that shows that, you know, God is here to say, ‘you know what, you’re a child of God, I love you, now have fun.’”

The third reason Bollerud listed was to raise funds and awareness about the needs of the Lutheran Social Services food bank, which he says has been struggling due to cuts in funding from the federal government.

“So until we can get the bozos in Washington to step up and wake up and open their eyes to see that children are starving, we need to step up and do what we can. We need to hit it on a two-point approach: one is we need to provide food here and now, we need advocacy to change minds.”

The turnout for the first Beer and Hymns event in Alaska was higher than Bollerud expected, bringing in over 80 attendees, a far cry from the 30 he expected. Online donations and a tip jar on the bartop collected over $5000, which will go directly to the Lutheran Social Services Foodbank. When asked if there would be plans to have another Beer and Hymns event in the future, Bollerud grinned. “It kind of depended on whether this was a success. And I would say: yes.”
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1 COMMENT

  1. Nice article, Heather, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in the picture.(thank you!) The event was fun. Mo was welcoming, the beer was good, and I’m glad LSSA raised $5k for the food bank.

    • Thank you, Pam. It was fun, and I’m glad to hear so much money was raised for the LSSA. I should be posting an audio version of this story soon, for your listening pleasure 🙂