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United Methodist Congregation Combats College Drinking

 


Feb. 25, 2004

Contact: Nancye Willis
(615) 742-5406
e-mail:
nwillis@umcom.org

United Methodist Congregation Combats College Drinking;
Opens Wireless Café, Offers Alcohol-free Alternative 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—Lots of University of Alabama students are getting an alcohol-free buzz, thanks to Trinity United Methodist Church. The congregation offers an alternative to Tuscaloosa’s “Strip,” a half mile of bars and nightclubs just off campus.

Quirkey's Café, in the basement of the church just across the street from one of the top party schools in the nation, is an effort to avoid alcohol-abuse rites of passage in this college town.

“You don’t see many people in your Friday classes,” says Alabama student Nathan Putnam. “Everybody’s pretty much hung over.”

(Quirkey’s Café at Trinity United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is featured in the UMTV video report “The Buzz on Campus” the week of Feb. 25.)

Seven nights a week, 6 p.m.-midnight, students make their own coffee and smoothies at this coffeehouse; they pay for snacks by the honor system. The hip, happening college hangout, packed with TVs, DVDs and 24 Internet connections, is, quite simply, “the bomb.”

“I like to call it the ADD person’s dream come true,” says Trinity pastor Alan Head.

Student Bridget Cabrera agrees: “I think it’s awesome. It’s a great atmosphere to just come out and hang out and meet people, have some coffee, watch some TV, do some homework.”

Church member Doris La Grone-Kispert, a great-grandmother with an eye for design and a love of college students, transformed the once-drab storage space, using funky colors and Christian symbolism. “They can see that they can have more fun in the same sort of ambiance as you would have in a bar,” she says.

The low-key ministry aims at connecting students to the church and each other. “We hope to accomplish that place where they feel like they belong, where they fit in and are a part,” says Head.

It’s not your typical church setting, student Tiffany Holliday says. “You don’t have to go and be ‘at church.’ You just go and hang out with other people who believe in pretty much the same things that you believe in.”

Quirkey’s also offers space for Bible study groups and a jazz worship service is being planned.

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