Bottles of beer will be given to fathers who attend church, in an alternative "blessing" for Father's Day.
Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy
(Urban Graphic greeting card)
"The plan to distribute ale has upset groups working to tackle alcohol abuse, but the Rt Rev John Inge, the Bishop of Worcester, said that it could help churches to attract more men.
He argued that the free beer was intended to be symbolic of "the generosity of God".
Men at St Stephen's church in Barbourne, Worcester, will be handed bottles of beer by children during the service. A prayer will be said for the fathers before the gifts are distributed.
The Ven Roger Morris, archdeacon of Worcester, who will be leading the service at St Stephen's today, said that it was a practical way of sending a message to fathers.
"I don't see any other time that we can stop and remember fathers, and this is a gesture saying 'Here's something that will bless you,'" he said.
"Posies of flowers are given to mums on Mothering Sunday and we wanted to give a laddish, blokeish gift to the men. A bottle of beer hits the mark. The whole of life is to be celebrated in church."
However, Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, criticised the Church, claiming that it was acting irresponsibly.
"Bearing in mind the country is facing rising health harms from its high level of alcohol consumption, anyone in a position of authority or respect should perhaps think twice about promoting alcohol to the public," he said.
Bishop Inge said that it was wrong to claim that the move would encourage alcoholism, and encouraged churches to use it as a way to reach out to men.
"Jesus created a lot more wine at a point in the party when some thought that there had already been enough drinking. He was all in favour of partying," the bishop said.
"We give wine away every Sunday, so giving away beer could be said to going downmarket a bit, but it's an attempt to speak of God's generosity.
"It's something that could be used as part of a service to encourage fathers to come. Once they are in church, hopefully they will be challenged by the deeper questions around fatherhood." "
Source : Telegraph