How Beer Came to Oktoberfest

A "St. Pauls Story" By Colleen Henry

Shortly after the Trosts and Henrys attended a really fun fund-raiser at another church, Pastor Trost asked me if I would chair an Oktoberfest to benefit St. Pauls outreach ministries. I agreed to do this and began to plan and get lots of other people involved.
In the spring of 1976 I submitted a plan to the Church Council for approval. The tentative budget included beer. It never occurred to me that anyone could have an Oktoberfest without beer! The plan was approved except for the beer. I was very, very upset. I talked to Pastor Trost about it who told me I should go along with the Council's wishes. But I just could not imagine an Oktoberfest without beer - and this was a German congregation!
After stewing and crying about it, I decided to fight. The spring congregational meeting was coming up. So I went to the president of the Church Council (called the Session back then) and asked to be on the agenda to make my case for having beer. It never occurred to me that this was a “no-no." I grew up in the Congregational Church which staunchly places power in the congregation. He very reluctantly agreed.
In retrospect, I was naïve. It was lucky that my husband, Tom, an associate pastor, didn't get fired over my stubbornness. One wasn't supposed to challenge authority back then. Nevertheless, I did the research and found out about dram insurance, etc. On the day of the congregational meeting, the Council presented their position and I presented mine. Naturally, I had supporters lined up to speak. There was actually very little discussion and only one question having to do with kegs instead of bottles so we wouldn't have to worry about broken glass. The motion to allow beer (and wine) at church functions passed with the stipulation that the appropriate insurance be secured. Even the old-timers supported it.
The Oktoberfest was a grand success. There were lots of community people as well as St. Pauls people. The Sam Hill Trio played. We had German food and decorations. The Church Council members who were against having beer were good sports and supported the event.
Although I am happy to have a legacy of leading the fight to have beer at church functions, I hope that I will also be remembered for daring to challenge the power structure and believing in the wisdom of the congregation.