Holy Spirit stops for a pint

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The Independent Online
IF MORNING worship hadn't entirely bathed him in the spirit, the Bishop of Bradford, Dr David Smith, did not need to walk far for a top- up.

He was blessed yesterday with the happy task of opening the Cock and Bottle, Britain's first "Christian pub", in the shadow of his own cathedral.

"The church has had to work hard to make significant contact here," the bishop said in the pub yard, where white plastic garden furniture stood in for pews. "I've no time for drunkenness but a large number of people [drink] sociably and sensibly."

The 30 Yorkshiremen in the small, dark pub in inner-city Barkerend Road had a distinctly secular feel. Bewilderment best sums up their response as they were told to sup up because a church service was to follow. "And I can have a drink after that?" asked one.

A woman from the adjacent high-rise flats was more animated when she complained about the loud music - from the band tuning up for its first number, "Amazing Grace".

The Christian pub scheme is part of the Church's new strategy to increase congregations in the inner city. The Cock and Bottle will offer counselling and evangelism nights in addition to the more usual pub fare.