Is it OK to serve alcohol at Quaker fundraising events?

  • April 8, 2015 at 5:16 pm #1529
    Carol Walz
    Participant

    Friends Schools and Retirement Communities now frequently have wine and cheese receptions, and offsite dinner events where alcohol is served. Under what circumstances is this a good idea?

  • May 25, 2015 at 8:44 am #1530

    I’m not sure it is a good idea at all. Nowadays it is acceptable in most Quaker circles to serve alcohol in one’s home but I for one do not feel right about it at events such as the ones you refer to. Additionally, I am aware of a PYM monthly meeting that included a raffle in a fundraiser. When a member pointed out that raffles are inconsistent with Quaker testimonies, the concern was brushed off and not even handled with Quaker process. Are these things not important? I’d like to hear opinions.

  • January 27, 2016 at 10:07 am #1734

    Haverford meeting allows it on the school campus for fundraising events. It saves them the cost of renting another site so more of the money they raise can be directed toward the school rather than the cost of the event.

  • February 13, 2016 at 10:08 am #1901
    Signe Wilkinson
    Participant

    At my meeting we have had periodic discussions about alcohol since a member wanted to serve wine at a family birthday party at our old building. We did not reach unity. The topic showed a clear divide between older and younger members. At our new building, the issue was raised but never resolved so we do not allow alcohol anywhere on the premises even though the AA groups that use our building don’t have a problem with it. We held my daughter’s wedding reception elsewhere after the lovely service in our meetinghouse. Her new in-laws, who are devout members of another church, graciously participated in the ceremony but wanted, in their tradition, to be able to toast the couple even though one of them is a non-drinker.

    While the policy has turned away some people who would have otherwise wanted to rent our social room space, we are still actively used by a wide range of groups and individuals who hold all manner of classes, lectures, meetings and social gatherings. We are a popular place for baby showers! Who knew. And, the policy has made it easy to turn down some inappropriate requests.

    So, for us, the policy has not been about rentals (we have lots) or use for fundraisers (we’ve hosted several). It is about our individual and corporate relationship to alcohol. It should be remembered that from our earliest days, Quakers drank and brewed liquor. George Fox recounts going to a tavern with friends and left only after his companions drank to excess. The family at Wyck owned a large and profitable beer brewery on Germantown Avenue until the late 1800s when many Quakers threw in with the prohibitionists. And, of course, Jesus did not turn water into sparkling apple juice at the wedding in Canna.

    Friends need to ask themselves whether this tradition (it is NOT a testimony) is central to our life as Friends and consistent with one of our fundamental testimonies: integrity. If we don’t serve alcohol at meeting, why do we drink at home? If we drink at home, why don’t we serve liquor at meeting? Are we inconsistent or do we want to say, “Yes, Friends do drink, but we want to preserve our meetings as an intoxicant-free zone so that our communion isn’t clouded or distorted by drinking or smoking?”

    My hunch is that each meeting (if they dare wrestle with them) would answer those questions differently and our answers will change over time. It is, however, a good discussion to have. Thanks for raising it.

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