Coffee Confessions

by admin on March 14, 2013

Yesterday my co-worker brought up an interesting topic at lunch. He is an usher at the Sunday traditional service in his church. For the past few Sundays, a church member has shown up with a large travel coffee mug when attending the service, and sips her beverage throughout the service. He finds this unusual, and it is not something he has seen before at the traditional service. The usher mentioned it to the minister, who decided not to address the situation. Apparently no one else in the congregation has mentioned it as bothering them. My co-worker’s question to us was, is it rude to bring a beverage to a church service?

I think it depends on your church and possibly on the nature of the service. I was raised Roman Catholic, and have never seen an adult drinking a beverage during the service, nor would this be considered appropriate. Another co-worker goes to an evangelical church, where the atmosphere is relaxed (jeans and t-shirts) and snacks and beverages are available in the church. She reported that people do bring beverages into the church services with them. As for the first co-worker’s church, considering that the service he ushers at is the more formal, traditional service, I think it is out of place to bring a travel mug, and probably not in keeping with the solemnity of the service. Of course, there may be information we do not know. Perhaps this church member has a medical condition that necessitates her drinking something frequently enough that she cannot go the entire hour the service takes without her beverage. My co-worker’s take on things was that she was just drinking coffee, though. He added that this person only recently started attending the traditional service, and he thinks she previously went to the”contemporary” service, where perhaps bringing in your coffee wouldn’t be as out of place.

To me, bringing a beverage into church makes it seem like going to the movies, as if it were entertainment to watch, rather than a solemn ceremony to participate in (and, admittedly, that’s based on my view of religious services). But if she’s not bothering anyone, it’s not rude, just perhaps odd. I look forward to hearing of others’ experiences or views. 0305-13

At the Sermon on the Mount, attended by thousands of people, Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves so that everyone would have enough to eat.   If Jesus is OK with people munching on food and drinking during his sermons, maybe we should be merciful to those who do likewise.

If the minister of your co-worker’s church sees nothing actionable in regards to a parishioner drinking coffee during the service, the buck stops with him to decide the issue.

{ 139 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly March 14, 2013 at 3:34 am

In a Catholic service it would be completely inappropriate – because you are supposed to fast at least 1 hour before Mass.

I think barring a religious reason – it is up to the Minister to set the tone.

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AnaLuisa March 14, 2013 at 4:46 am

I would find this unacceptable, but I am very old-fashioned – I hate even the popcorn and coke in movie theatres.

I think it will do no harm to a healthy person to refrain from eating/drinking for an hour or two.

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Marozia March 14, 2013 at 4:54 am

If the minister and the other parishioners don’t object, then I suppose it would be OK, so long as the woman in question doesn’t slurp her drink or spill it. However, if she does spill the coffee, I feel that she should personally clean the stain or pay a professional to do it.
At our church, several people, including myself & husband frequently take cups of water into the service. The minister doesn’t mind…..he does it too!!

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Green123 March 14, 2013 at 5:56 am

It’s…. just coffee. One can still worship deity of their choice while drinking a drink!

People drink coffee *everywhere* these days – on the bus, in the street, in the office, in the shops… A fellow passenger on my bus to work each morning drinks her massive Starbucks and then leaves the empty cup and lid on the floor when she alights. Better the Church Lady brings a reusable sippy cup than leaves trash behind, eh?

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josie March 14, 2013 at 6:12 am

At a church that we recently visited, the coffeepot was right outside the door as you went in. At our home church, bringing drinks in are not the norm. A bottle of water to ward off a coughing fit, maybe, but most people can survive an hour without a drink.

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BMS March 14, 2013 at 6:41 am

Our church (Roman Catholic) is fairly relaxed and liberal. Drinking coffee in church would seem odd and out of place there, but our community has always had a policy of being welcoming and accepting of everyone, so no one would really say anything. My concern is one of spills. Spill on the pew, and someone’s clothes are going to get mussed. If you put it on the floor, it’s easy to kick over, and now you have a puddle on a marble floor – highly slippery and dangerous for some of our elderly and vision impaired community members. In the interest of safety, it would probably be better to wait until the fellowship hour after church. But I suppose if the choice is drink coffee in church or avoid church all together, we’d rather have someone there and joining us in worship.

Now the cell phones in church. Oy. Don’t get me started…

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Lo March 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

I attend service at a casual evangelist mega-church but I’ve never seen anyone bringing food or drink in, honestly, that would be weird.

At Mass it’s a definite no-no.

But I think church is a place where we focus on our own spiritual life, not worry about what others are doing. Whether that means biting your tongue about people who are underdressed for it or people who are drinking coffee, whatever. I agree that it’s up to the minister/pastor/priest to decide what’s acceptable. The only time I could ever see confronting a fellow attendee about behavior would be if they were being loud and disruptive.

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Rodinne March 14, 2013 at 6:59 am

I disagree. It’s not appropriate. One should be paying attention to the minister and the message, and not to mundane things like coffee. And one should *definitely* not risk the damage a spill might do to the carpeting.

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Laura March 14, 2013 at 6:59 am

I agree with Admin on this one. Like the OP, I am also Roman Catholic, and have never seen anyone bring a drink to church, but with church attendance declining in many churches, I think people should be welcomed and accepted however they choose to attend. We had a pastor once who, during his sermon, would publicly berate anyone who wasn’t dressed up to the standards he felt were appropriate. Needless to say people started going elsewhere.

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Chris March 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

Is she also bringing in a bucket of popcorn or a couple of hotdogs all dressed up? Laughing at inappropriate moments? Whispering to her friend which member of the choir is the hottest? No? Then I don’t really see how she is “mak[ing] it seem like going to the movies, as if it were entertainment to watch, rather than a solemn ceremony to participate in.” Medical condition or not, all she is doing is bringing refreshment. Maybe this new church member works overnights and she brings the coffee to this service so she can stay awake throughout? Or maybe, yes, she does have a medical condition. Or maybe she just prefers to not sit there for an hour or two being thirsty?

As Admin said- if the minister finds no reason to confront her, then there is no reason an alternate objection should be raised. Presumably she is not letting the drink spill everywhere.

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Serena March 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

While I’ve never taken an actual beverage to Church, I may have an idea where this lady is coming from. (I typically take cough drops or mints of some sort where I feel a beverage would be out of place.) I take several medications, many of which cause dry mouth…which causes more problems than you could possibly imagine, but enough of that. It’s to the point where I have to bring some sort of liquid with me everywhere I go. Blood test that requires fasting, including water? Sorry. No dice. A really nice store that doesn’t allow beverages? I guess I won’t be shopping there, darn it. I can’t even get through a dental cleaning without the hygienist having to spray my mouth with water several times. There is also a syndrome that causes the same symptoms, but is not medication induced. This lady could very well be suffering from something similar. Or not. Just a possibility that I personally have dealt with that I thought I would throw out there for consideration.

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SS March 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

One comment I have is that if this is a Catholic service, you are not supposed to eat or drink anything at least 1 hour before taking communion, so drinking coffee seems to violate this expectation. I don’t know about other religion traditions.

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Rose March 14, 2013 at 7:23 am

Unless her drink is something stinky, or she’s drinking it in a loud manner somehow, I can’t imagine it would bother me. Of course, it depends on the religion, and the individual church. Perhaps, though, a standard should be established by the church and communicated to the congregants, setting some sort of limit so things don’t get completely out of hand. For instance, a drink in a travel mug with a lid is fine, but a sandwich or fruit is not.

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Erin March 14, 2013 at 7:27 am

Hey, coffee or not, at least she’s at church!

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Ergala March 14, 2013 at 7:31 am

The parishioner could have a very very valid reason for bringing the mug. Is your coworker positive it’s coffee? The person could have a very dry throat and rather than spend the whole time coughing or clearing their throat they bring tea/water in a travel mug. I grew up Roman Catholic as well and I remember the incense and dry air causing me to cough constantly. I never thought of bringing something to drink (I wish I would have!) and instead either suffered or brought in hard candy to suck on which did absolutely nothing to help the problem.

Or they could be someone trying to quit smoking and need to keep their mouth busy. What would be more distracting….them chewing gum or sipping a beverage every so often?

If the pastor/priest/sermon giver has no qualms about the situation then it’s not an issue. They would speak up if it were and I’d hope they would approach the person personally rather than make a congregation wide announcement when that person is the only one bringing in a drink….that would be embarrassing and everyone would know it was her.

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Barensmom March 14, 2013 at 7:35 am

I think it’s a bit inconsiderate to bring drinks into a worship service. It would be very hard to concentrate on a sermon if someone is slurping coffee in the pew behind you. Also, what happens if the person spills their coffee? Are they prepared to clean up their own mess or will they leave it for the ushers to deal with? If the drinker tries to clean it up themselves, there’s the distraction of going to the restroom to get paper towels, coming back in and mopping up during service. Ushers already have to deal with gum and candy wrappers (and their chewed or half-eaten contents), dropped bulletins, etc., after the service, so it’s a bit much to expect them to clean up spilled liquids as well. Not to mention the damage it could do to the carpet, flooring, pew cushions, etc.

It’s inconsiderate and disgusting.

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ferretrick March 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

I’ll admit it’s not something I would ever consider doing myself, but I think this is no different than people who complain about people wearing casual clothes to church. Again, I believe in dressing up for services (or did when I attended them), but what other people wear is not my business-I should just be concentrateing on my own connection with the Lord and leave everybody else to theirs.

I remember one story I’ve always liked along this theme:

An old biker came to a new town and went to church. He was very different in culture and background from the other people of the church. They dressed very formally, wore their best jewelry, the works. He came into the service dressed in his beat up leather jacket, his “best” pants, which were old and tattered, and his favorite T-shirt, carrying his worn, tattered Bible under his arm.
No one greeted him; no one sat with him during the service. As he was walking out, the minister stopped him and said, “My son, maybe you should talk to the Lord about what would be more appropriate to wear next time.”

The next week he came back to the church, dressed the same as the Sunday before. On the way out, the minister again stopped him, and asked if he had prayed on the question of how he should dress at this church. The biker replied, “Well, yes Sir, I did. But the Lord told me he didn’t have a clue what I should wear-he’s never been here.”

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NostalgicGal March 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

Most of the time the congregation is established and the minister or priest has accepted the call (so in lay terms, been hired) to minister to that congregation. Some congregations will let the minister set the tone of what is or is not acceptable… some dictate what they wish. (whether it is the general tone of the services, the fixtures and accessories within the church, etc).

However, if the minister is allowing it, then if someone has issue with it, they should have a few polite words with the minister, as it will be their issue.

To the coffee drinker themselves, they just might not be aware that it may not be appropriate in a more formal set of services. I do not feel it is up to the person who is uncomfortable with it to approach the drinker directly, it should be referred to the minister.

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Hanna March 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

Jesus only multiplied the fish and bread after he as done teaching and his disciples suggested letting the people go into the village to find bread for themselves. Him teaching, and the people eating did not occur at the same time.

I have struggled with this issue myself. I grew up in a traditional church where getting a latte at the church coffee house before service was seen as crass because church is not a baseball game. We come to worship, not to see what we can get out of it. In my current more modern church I have seen worship leaders, on their Sundays off, chewing an apple during the worship service and was very put off by this. But getting coffee in the lobby and drinking it during service is very common place and I’m sure I’ve had water during service before.

So I am very torn on the issue.

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Mary March 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

I grew up Catholic and I can remember my Mom saying no eating, drinking, mints or gum before or during church. Something about abstaining until you receive communion (the wafers and wine). However, I personally have no issue with it and would in fact find it a nice perk to be able to drink my coffee during services. I also agree that formality has to be considered. My DH’s family attends a Church of the Brethren and they frequently have more relaxed services, including a potluck lunch eaten while church services were being conducted, Christmas Eve services in PJ’s, and a more “come as you are” atmosphere.

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susan March 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

I learned the hard way when I was a teenager that an open bag of jelly beans, a wooden pew, and quiet meditation don’t mix. Especially when the beans fall out of the bag. ;)

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Joni March 14, 2013 at 8:03 am

It’s my understanding that the Sermon on the Mount was an all day affair… the loaves and fishes thing was necessitated by Jesus not wanting people to have to travel long distances home and back to eat and possibly miss the second half of the sermon. It wasn’t about snacking. Most church sermons these days are around an hour in length, so I don’t think that coffee is necessary. We have often brought small snacks like Cheerios to keep our kids occupied when they were littler but now that they are all school age they are expected to sit through the sermon (averages 70 – 80 minutes in our denomination) without treats and without any form of entertainment other than a piece of paper and a pencil. They ate breakfast right before we left, they can’t be THAT hungry.

My other thought – and this may be way off base – is how does anyone know it’s coffee? It could be anything if it’s in a covered mug.

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Cat March 14, 2013 at 8:06 am

Since people have to be asked to turn off cell phones during mass, sometimes people do need to be reminded about behavior which is appropriate to the faith. The Mass is not just a sermon (homily); the mass is the official worship of the Church and is meant to be prayed, not just sat through quietly like a sermon.
I used to teach at a Catholic high school and had a Jewish teacher who always wanted to sit with me during school masses and chat. She did not understand that this was not the time for us to socialize. I had to explain that, as a Catholic, this was the time we worshipped God and I could not talk to her.
Barring medical issues, this lady just has a different understanding of what is happening. The pastor doesn’t want to risk offending her and is going to allow her to continue to do what is comfortable for her. It’s his call. I’d try to concentrate on what I am doing and ignore the behavior of others.

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another Laura March 14, 2013 at 8:26 am

My church has a “no beverages in the sanctuary” policy, there are signs posted and everything, but when I was pregnant or nursing (and therefore ALWAYS thirsty) I was allowed to take a bottle of water and drink it-it had a lid and I never spilled. I would think a travel mug would also be less likely to spill than an open cup or mug.
I never paid attention to see if other people were drinking anything during the service. I guess I was trying to obey the verse about not looking for slivers in someone else’s eye when there is a log in my own.

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Carol March 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

While I agree that this really does fall into the ‘not worth worrying about’ category, I don’t blame your co-worker for being a little surprised. It does just seem…odd, to bring a beverage into a church service. Any place of worship, for the most part, is a solomn place, and drinking coffee is something you would think might be best left for the social gathering after the service, should the church/temple/whatever have one.

Maybe she just really hates being one of the inevitable coughers that start right when the sermon does, and brings a drink in to head it off at the pass!

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Jones March 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

The religion in which I was raised had a minimum 3 hour service on Sundays. Snacks and small drinks were a necessity. Coffee, however, was strictly forbidden, not just at the meeting but from all members’ lives.
I haven’t found my new religious niche yet, but when I do, I will go by the pastor/minister/priest/teacher’s rules, and refrain from my judgement of other worshipers.

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Lynnie March 14, 2013 at 8:58 am

It also has to do with the church decor. A friend used to worship in a warehouse, concrete floors, etc….and it was very acceptable there to bring in just about anything because spills, etc were of no concern to them.

However, if you are in a very elaborate building with nice interior dressings, then I would say NO regardless of what was taking place in the building itself.

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mpk March 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

Growing up Catholic – you had to fast for an hour before church only if you were going to be taking communion.
Don’t know how i feel about taking a beverage in. But, i wouldn’t judge the person or say anything, because we don’t know why they are bringing the drink in. could be one of the many reasons that alot of people on here mentioned.
ferrittrick – really liked that story. gave me a chuckle. thanks.

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Anonymous March 14, 2013 at 9:18 am

>>the Sermon on the Mount, attended by thousands of people, Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves so that everyone would have enough to eat. If Jesus is OK with people munching on food and drinking during his sermons, maybe we should be merciful to those who do likewise.

If the minister of your co-worker’s church sees nothing actionable in regards to a parishioner drinking coffee during the service, the buck stops with him to decide the issue.<<

Yeah, I agree–that seems like a pretty sensible approach. Since we can't exactly call up Jesus and ask Him how He feels about people drinking coffee in church, then the minister gets to decide, as a living representative of Jesus. As for everything else, I pretty much agree with the other posters–drinking coffee in church may seem a little odd, but as long as this woman isn't slurping loudly, or spilling, or running to the bathroom every five minutes. A previous poster had a good point about the contemporary services–maybe it's normal and accepted to bring beverages and snacks there, and so, the coffee-drinking woman is still adjusting to the traditional services, where it isn't normal. Maybe she'll figure it out eventually, and stop, if she hasn't been to any religious services aside from the contemporary ones at that church. Of course, that's assuming that she doesn't have a good reason for drinking coffee. Maybe she's up late at night because of work, or academic commitments, or caring for a young child, or something else, but she still wants to get up on Sundays and go to church. On another note, I'm not religious myself, but I think it's cool that people have the option of contemporary or religious services, or children's services, at church, and even "Worship for Shut-Ins" on TV (yes, it's really called that). I think it's cool that there are so many different ways to interpret the Bible, and that there are religious officials who are willing to bend traditions a bit to accommodate different kinds of people, to make it possible for them to attend church.

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Ginger G March 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

As a non-worshipper, I’m not sure I appreciate the “at least she’s in church” comment. Does that maker her a better person? Some of us are good people without spending hours in church.

Regarding the coffee, I do find it odd but maybe that’s what she needs to stay awake. Back in the days when I did attend church, I almost always started nodding off at some point.

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CSmithy March 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

“Maybe she just really hates being one of the inevitable coughers that start right when the sermon does, and brings a drink in to head it off at the pass!”

Actually, this is what I thought of first as well. My mom and I both get terrible congestion/coughs throughout the winter (my mom much worse than me), and I used to keep some sort of liquid on me everywhere I went, even when driving, to try to stave it off. I am not religious so I don’t know if I would’ve taken one to church, but my mom took hard candies and I don’t see, really, how it’s all that different (spills are irrelevant, we’re talking about a travel mug here!).

I think this is sort of a “live and let live” situation.

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CSmithy March 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

(Not to imply that travel mugs can’t spill, just that there’s a smaller risk there, and I think that’s taking enough precaution.)

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UU March 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

Our church has really great coffee and they provide reusable mugs so that we are not being wasteful with paper or styrofoam. We only have one service and now that we have moved we drive about an hour to get to there. It is wonderful to be able to have a cup of coffee during the service! I don’t know about other people, but it keeps me more awake and attentive in service. :)

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Stepmomster March 14, 2013 at 10:14 am

I am a major caffeine junky, and tend to get migraines if i don’t drink soda at certain times of the day. I have tried to quit, but the longest i have gone is 3 weeks before finally giving up due to the pain. I always have a soda in the morning, even on Sunday.

One Sunday I was running late, and I went in to the service with my soda. We are pretty casual, but nobody brings drinks and we don’t have coffee in the lobby. This dear old man sees me with my soda, and he makes a beeline right over to me during the meet and greet portion of the service. He plucks the soda out of my hand, and tells me in his gravelly voice (with a smile) “You need to be an example to the children” and starts to walk away to the garbage.

Well, I was not angry, I was instantly bashful, because this man is the sweetest most godly man i have ever met. I blushed and said quickly “Larry wait!” and he turns around, and I say “can i just get a good big swallow first, before you throw it away, i get terrible headaches”

He comes back and hands me the cup and stands there and waits patiently while I gulp a bunch down. I hand it back to him, and he goes and throws it away, and then he comes back and hugs me, and whispers “sorry about the headaches” and I whisper “its ok, i knew better, love you larry” and we go sit down.

It is one of my most favorite memories at church, because he cared enough about me to care about my example.

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cocacola35 March 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

The service that I attend is very formal- everyone wears their Sunday best, remains seated unless directed by the minister, and are expected to be quiet during the sermon. Drinking a beverage or eating something besides the occasional mint or cough drop would be considered out of place. I also don’t think it would be allowed, not only because it would change the tone of the service but also because they are worried about spills.

With that said, I really think that the situation in the OP is more of a “their house, their rules” sort of thing. Some churches like mine want to keep the tone of the sermon more formal, others allow a more relaxed atmosphere. As long as the minister allows it and the patron is not disturbing anyone else by sipping her coffee I don’t think there is anything wrong with what she is doing.

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Serena March 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

For those Catholics who commented, yes you must fast for an hour before receiving Communion; but we all have the option of foregoing Communion if we find we’ve cut it just a little too close with breakfast or a breath mint or whatnot. I never worried too much about whether those in the Amen pew noticed that I didn’t receive the Sacrament one week.

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Alexis March 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

I would only say its inappropriate if they’re a LOUD coffee drinker, which is not stated. I have one coworker who will slurp his coffee noisily over the rim of the cup. I can hear it from over the cubicle wall and it gets really annoying. It would be very unpleasant in a church scenario.

But otherwise… Who really cares if someone has a drink? That seems like such a silly thing to complain about. Are they being disruptive? Then what does it matter, honestly.

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Jeanne March 14, 2013 at 10:20 am

I always have water with me in the choir. I need it to sing. However, we would probably accept a travel mug but discourage an open cup of coffee. We just got new carpet and we’re trying to keep it clean at least a little while. I’ve often had adults bring coffee to my Sunday School class. Not a big deal. And I do attend a traditional service.

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The Elf March 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

Can I just say how happy I am the usher decided to bring the problem up to the minister, who held decision making authority, rather than either self-police it or send out a letter or any one of a number of blunders? It makes sense that he would be concerned, and taking it to the minister is exactly the right thing to do.

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Annie March 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

You only have to worry about whether this is appropriate if you’re the one doing it.

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Jen March 14, 2013 at 10:39 am

I am amused by the coffee/church thing because there is a fair trade coffee shop in my city that is operated out of a church. It’s a very casual church, targeting mostly 20-somethings and college students that very likely don’t have a huge selection of dressy clothes to wear.

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Kimberly March 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

In our church, not only can people bring drinks in from outside, but we have coffee and hot water available in the lobby, a tea bags and packets of hot chocolate if coffee is not your preference. We consider it part of offering our hospitality to the people who come to the service. Moreover, people do sometimes spill, but you know what? When we carpeted the building, we chose something that holds up well to spills too. People still become very engaged in worship, despite having their drinks; it certainly has not turned the service into a “spectator event.”

I think that in a church service, it doesn’t really matter what other people are doing, as long as it is not a disruption to others. Quietly sipping a cup of coffee shouldn’t be disruptive to anyone.

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Kovitlac March 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

I don’t see how this could even be considered rude, unless it was somehow against the religion or strict rules of the church. Or if she was slurping or actually being a bother to people. But she seems to be simply minding her own business. When I was young, and easily distracted, by parents brought quiet, simple toys (such as a coloring book and a couple crayons) for me to play with, plus a small snack (such as Cheerios in a zip-lock bag) for me to munch on. These were left at home once I grew a little bit older, and I was always taught to be quiet and behave in church, but the point is, I don’t see how bringing something as simple as a mug of coffee to a sermon could be construed as rude or inappropriate.

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Cami March 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

Jesus wasn’t teaching and watching people gnawing on a donut at the same time. He taught and THEN the people ate.

Eating during church is a huge pet peeve of mine. Our church has a coffee hour between two Sunday services. In the last year or so, people attending the later service have started showing up only in time to grab a cup of coffee and a donut (or two or three) and then sit in church eating and drinking. It’s distracting and IMO, quite rude to the officiant and musicians. Invariably someone spills the coffee and jumps up, disrupting the service. Iinvariably some kid who didn’t get a donut starts whining and/or pitching a fit about wanting one, followed by a parent getting up and leaving to get a donut, coming back, etc. Then there’s the juggling that’s going on when we stand to say a commual prayer or sing. Moreover, the worst offenders are the parents with the kids who are already out of control. So giving them sugar is not the best option.

The pastor refuses to say anything as she does not want to “discourage” people from attending church. As I just told her last Sunday, this endless snacking is discouraging me from attending.

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Jewel March 14, 2013 at 10:54 am

I shudder to envision a whole sanctuary full of people slurping and munching their way through the service. Besides the sounds of chewing and drinking, and the smells, the resulting mess from accidental spills and food crumbs left behind would turn our beautiful sanctuary into a sticky gross mess. Fortunately, this won’t be an issue where I attend church, since congregants are to refrain from eating and drinking (anything except water) for one hour before taking communion.

By the way, admin (and you had to know this was coming), Jesus fed the multitudes in the evening at the end of his day of preaching and healing. He didn’t do so in the middle of his sermon.

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admin March 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Actually the exegesis of the Gospel accounts indicates that Jesus taught throughout the day, his disciples brought it to his attention that the crowd needed to be dispersed so that they could go into area towns to buy food. Jesus then instructed that people sit in groups of 50, multiplied the five loaves and 2 fishes, everyone ate and only afterwards did Jesus dismiss the crowd. He then went up the mountain to pray and Mark 6:47 clearly says, “And when evening came….” There is no Biblical evidence that this meal happened in the evening but appears to be part of the entire events of the day.

“…began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[f] worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came,….”

The Gospel of John indicates as well that the feeding of the five thousand occurred before “evening came”.

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Huh March 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

I’m a coffee addict and I’ve never done this and would never think to do this.

However, if there’s a church that ENCOURAGES you to bring your coffee, sign me up! :)

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admin March 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm

My church offers coffee before the service and there are people sitting through the service with a cup discreetly sipping away.

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hakayama March 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

@Kimberly: Is fasting required before ANY Mass? Even if one is not taking Communion? Or perhaps Communion a MUST these days when going to Mass?

Also, the OP did not mention that the “traditional service” was a Catholic Mass…

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Calli Arcale March 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

I wouldn’t bother worrying about it, but then I’m from a fairly liberal Protestant denomination; we care more *that* you come to church than how you’re dressed and whether or not you managed to finish your coffee before the service.

That said, I figure it’s one of those “house rules” sort of things. When you go to church, you’re going into someone else’s house — nominally God’s house, of course, but that’s not what I mean. It’s the congregation’s house. If the congregation is laid back about stuff like that, it’s no biggie. If they find it disrespectful, you should refrain. In all cases, though, it’s up to the priest/pastor/other church officials to intervene and enforce whatever rules there are. Many churches do have limited funds, and if their sanctuary features upholstered seats, a “no food” rule could be quite reasonable to avoid property damage and unforseen costs.

Me, I think it’s okay to bring a drink in if it’s not finished (being of the “waste not want not” school of thought), but you probably shouldn’t be drinking from it during the service, any more than you should be messing with your smart phone. If you absolutely must, be discreet so you don’t disturb others. Basic etiquette, not unique to churches.

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Raven March 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

Every church is different, and every church-goer’s opinion is going to be different to.

I always bring a bottle of water with me to church, both because I am always thirsty and because the church can be dry. I also sometimes will make a smoothie at home and put it in a coffee cup, and drink that first. I know some people might think that odd, but our church couldn’t possibly care less about things like that. I flat-out asked our minister about it a while ago, out of curiosity, and she laughed and said people were welcome to bring what they liked (just be careful not to spill, of course) and that she was just glad to see us.

It all depends on how you view it, I guess. If the person with the cup isn’t spilling, slurping, or stinking up the place, I would say don’t worry about it. At least they’re there!

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Janos March 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

Why are you all assuming she is going to spill her coffee all over the floor and leave a big mess and NOT clean it up?

This woman isn’t 2 I think we shouldn’t assume she’s just going to be messy due to her drinking coffee quietly(Or maybe it’s water, I dunno)

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