Beer and the Bible: Finding God at the Tap Room in Ypsilanti
Members of the Metamorphosis Church pray while holding a Bible study session in the back of the Tap Room bar in downtown Ypsilanti on a recent Thursday night. Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
With a beer to his left and iPhone in hand, Ben Hardy started reading the Bible aloud to a group of 11 people in the Tap Room.
Hardy is not a preacher or evangelist. He and his wife, Angie, are the leaders of Metamorphosis, a congregation of people who meet weekly in the downtown Ypsilanti bar to talk about God.
A discussion of faith leads to comparisons to Johnny Cash and Monopoly, and as Hardy kept reading, this week from Philippians, his Dark Horse beers kept coming to the table.
Khad (pronounced Chad) Young, founder of the church of sorts, calls himself an outlaw preacher. Young is the son of a Lutheran pastor, and he attended Lutheran schools his entire life. When he started college at Concordia University, he didn’t find himself “plugged in” to the activities on campus.
Inspired by Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Young set out to start a church he and his friends felt comfortable in.
Young and his friends would spend most of their evenings at a local Denny’srestaurant, so one day Young suggested they hold Bible study there.
“It became church for a lot of people coming,” he said. “We ended up pretty much taking over the smoking section.”
The group stopped meeting after several of its original members graduated. Young decided to start it back up this year, this time at the Tap Room.
“For anyone who has background in church, they call it a Bible study,” he said. “It’s a church for people who don’t want to go to church.”
Recently Young decided to move to Los Angeles, but the group will continue under the leadership of two regular members, Angie and Ben Hardy.Angie Hardy, a teacher by day, said she and Ben were looking for a church for two years before they found Metamorphosis.
“The first time we came, we knew it was for us,” Ben Hardy said. “There were no expectations for who you should be and what you should look like.”
Without being asked, the server brings the table a basket of breadsticks and a glass of wine, and the group passes each around for communion.
“Why can’t Jesus be beer?” one member asks in jest.
After the hour-long service, the group continues with their meal.
“Churches have potlucks,” Young said. “We have beer and snacks.”
Some people might consider the group blasphemous. When asked, Young looks to the stories of Jesus in which he says he is called to help the sinners, not the religious leaders.
"I’m not trying to steal people from other churches," he said. I’m reaching out to people who wouldn’t go to church."