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Sammy Daly and Jeremy Dean at The Crown Hotel, Brisbane. Photo by Theology on Tap Brisbane.
Sammy Daly and Jeremy Dean at The Crown Hotel, Brisbane. Photo: Theology on Tap Brisbane

Theologians raise the bar

Theology on Tap is a public lecture series held at your local pub. Ashley Thompson explores how an ecumenical group of Brisbane Christians is bringing theology into the public sphere.

Co-founded by two American Catholic priests in 1981, Theology on Tap’s (TOT) original purpose revolved around remaining relevant to university-aged young adults who had lost touch with the church.

So when four friends, Rev Dr Charles Ringma, Josh Newington, Dr Paul Mercer and Dr Terry Gatfield chose to base their Brisbane version of the event around ecumenism, neutrality and age inclusivity, its purpose was notably different.

“The thing about a pub is that anybody can come, right?” says Charles, “We do have younger people, mainly college and university students who come but then there are people in their forties and some golden oldies. So it’s actually quite a spectrum … rather than an exclusive space for 25 year olds.”

Launched at the Lutwyche Crown Hotel in July this year, the TOT Brisbane series is for those on the fringes of Christian spirituality—who would not necessarily come to a traditional Sunday service but are still interested in how faith applies to daily life.

“We want to demonstrate that theology is not simply relevant to the church but for one’s life, for the political arena, for social issues and much more,” says Charles.

Steph Dick is a 23-year-old jazz vocalist and the commissioned musician at the last event. She says that while young adult events at church have wrapped inside of them a culture her non-Christian friends may not be comfortable with yet, it was less threatening to invite them along to a pub.

“It’s just a discussion, so why not have it over a beer?” says Steph. “For me theology takes a similar place in church life as say an art gallery, the idea of going to a theology talk is kind of like going into the heart of the art: the core and the essence of thought and Christian ideas.

“I feel like by actually presenting theology at its core it’s a lot less likely to be lost in translation and, you know, ‘Christianese’.”

For more information or to get involved visit theologyontapbrisbane.wordpress.com

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