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Friday May 26, 2017
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Beloved Beer



Even after the Germans became Christians, most religious leaders followed the biblical view of alcohol as part of God's bounty. Martin Luther was fond of beer and wine: he occasionally got drunk, and he used the tunes of popular drinking songs for some of his hymns.

Such was the tradition behind missionary pastor Frederick Schmid, who came to Michigan in 1833 to plant congregations among the state's German immigrants. But Schmid, who founded both Zion Lutheran Church and Bethlehem United Church of Christ, quickly learned that other local ministers had much stricter attitudes toward alcohol. Repulsed by the widespread preference for hard liquor and the habit of going on drunken sprees, many advocated an outright ban on drinking.

In June 1834, Schmid was approached by a local Presbyterian minister. Would Schmid use his authority to persuade Ann Arbor's Germans to follow Presbyterian temperance tenets, which forbade not only alcohol but even coffee and tea?

Schmid replied that it was not necessary for a Christian to submit himself to such a yoke. People with the Holy Spirit within them would not drink too much nor misuse the gifts of God. Jesus, Schmid added, drank wine.

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