A vicar has teamed up with his local pub to revive the medieval tradition of blessing beer!!
The village of Michaelston-y-Fedw all came together to celebrate the Blessing of the Beer Festival which was held at the Cefn Mably Arms pub at the end of June.
Reverend Dean Roberts, who organised the event, said: “The Blessing of the Beer Festival is something which provides yet another opportunity for the Church to engage with the community in a fun, yet meaningful way.
“Part of my role as a vicar is to share in the cure of souls in the parish which means being present to all parishioners regardless of faith, whilst at the same time boldly proclaiming the gift of eternal life available to all who put their trust in Jesus. I have found time and time again that people value explicitness and they want to know what being a Christian is all about, even if they are self-professed atheists.
“My message this year was about how God has made us for relationship; he’s made us for relationship with him, and he’s made us for relationship with each other. I felt this was especially important to highlight as the village has recently come together to install its own fibre optic broadband which has made international news headlines. It’s been brilliant to see the village come together to make it happen.
“The Beer Blessing this year was another opportunity to nurture community and celebrate all that’s happened, whilst offering another invitation on Jesus’ behalf for people to come to know him.
“Whilst the beer is blessed by myself (in that I thank God for the fact we have it to enjoy and ask him that we may use the good things he’s given us for his glory) the most important part of the service for me is the opportunity to share the Gospel and to pray God’s blessing on the people. People are open to asking the big questions of life, and they did during the festival, but there needs to be relationship there to enable that openness. As a vicar, I want to be someone who has strong convictions and a very public faith whilst being someone who is approachable. The Blessing of the Beer fosters that.”
In times gone by, Monks used to bless the ale they had brewed before it went to local taverns to be consumed. Reverend Dean revived this tradition in 2017 by asking landlords of the Cefn Mably Arms, Ben Longman and Caroline Hill, if he could hold a Blessing of the Beer Festival every year which would bring the village together, which would be a fun day out of the house, and which would allow the Church to be present and available to the community.
Caroline and Ben said: “The blessing of the beer was an amazing event for the pub. The whole community turned out and many brought friends from further afield. Dean had everyone joining in with hymns and prayers.
Many non-church goers said they loved the event and thought Dean brought new meanings for religion for them. We were all delighted to raise funds for the church and do it in a social and religious way. The local businesses as well as the pub generously donated many raffle prizes to raise money for the church and the band played only for food and beer. It brought all kinds of people together in one place for what is now an annual celebration.”
The Festival starts with a blessing service. Reverend Dean gives a little “message” for all those who are there, and then blesses the beer, the public house itself, the staff of the pub, and of course all those who are there for festival. The service finishes with a hymn – this year it was Amazing Grace.
The pub remains open after the service, with a barbecue, live entertainment and local bands.
Reverend Dean, added: “The atmosphere was fantastic and it’s a great way of making friends and getting to know people. I was there for nearly 10 hours!
“The other amazing thing to come out of it which was an unintended consequence of the event is that the Pub donates the proceeds to the Church in Michaelston. Currently, God is challenging the PCC at Michaelston to engage more with the village and so the proceeds we get from the Blessing of the Beer will go back into the community for the purposes of mission and evangelism.”