[Religion News Service] The first time coffee showed up in church, things did not go well.
First developed in the Muslim world in the mid-800s, coffee was initially greeted by the Vatican, according to traditional stories, as a “hellish” brew meant to tempt Christians.
“For Christians to drink it, was to risk falling into a trap set by Satan for their soul,” wrote William Harrison Ukers in his 1922 book, “All About Coffee.”
Thankfully, said the Rev. Tim Schenck, Pope Clement VII, who ruled in the 16th century, had a better idea.
After trying a cup for himself and finding it delicious, Clement decided to baptize coffee in order to fool Satan and “make it a Christian beverage,” said Schenck, an Episcopal priest and author of “Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection Between Coffee and Faith.”
Five centuries later, coffee hour is now a staple of congregational life for many houses of worship, where members drink coffee, often brewed in commercial vats, and chitchat before or after services. But with in-person worship services paused during the pandemic, coffee hour disappeared. That time of socializing is one of the things that churchgoers have missed most about meeting in person.
A poll from Barna found that after Communion (24%), people missed socializing with other churchgoers the most (23%).
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