The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Model Policy on Alcohol for Parishes

A Model Policy on the Use of Alcoholic Beverages in Congregations

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(A Model Policy on the Use of Alcoholic Beverages in Parishes, Worshiping Communities and all church related events
(revised and adopted by the Bishop and Diocesan Executive Council 12/16/2009; adopted by the Bishop and Diocesan Executive Council to apply to diocesan events, 12/16/2009; revised and adopted by Executive Council to comply with the 78th General Convention Resolution A158, 12/5/15)

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) acknowledges The Episcopal Church’s and ECCT’s long-standing tolerance for the use of alcohol which, in some cases, has contributed to its misuse, and has undermined a climate of wholeness and holiness for all; that our Church culture too often avoids hard conversations about alcohol use, and the role of forgiveness and compassion in healing and recovery; and that ECCT now commits to create a new normal in our relationship with alcohol. We aspire to be a place in which conversation about alcohol, substance misuse, or addiction are not simply about treatment but about renewal, justice, wholeness, and healing.

ECCT seeks to create a welcoming and safe environment for all of God’s people, including those in recovery. To that end, ECCT, all parishes and ministries must purposefully regulate alcohol use at their functions or refrain from serving non-sacramental alcohol.

Clergy of ECCT shall:

  • Consecrate an appropriate amount of wine when celebrating the Eucharist and perform ablutions in a way that does not foster or model misuse;
  • Acknowledge the efficacy of receiving the sacrament in one kind and consider providing non-alcoholic wine.
  • Not expect or require anyone to consume excess consecrated wine.

The serving and/or consumption of non-sacramental alcohol at ECCT-related event, whether held on church property or elsewhere, is permitted only when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The clergy, wardens and vestry approve the serving of alcohol prior to the event and ensure that responsible adults oversee the serving of alcoholic beverages to assure full compliance with this policy, including the moderate consumption of alcohol. The responsible adults overseeing the serving of alcohol must not drink alcoholic beverages during the time of the execution of their responsibilities. This includes assuming responsibility for persons who become visibly intoxicated and providing alternative transportation for anyone whose capacity to drive is visibly impaired.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages are offered in a way that is equally attractive and accessible as alcoholic beverages. Hard liquor (anything other than beer and wine)is served only if a certified server is present.
  • All laws regarding alcohol are complied with including those related to the sale of alcoholic beverages and the prohibition on serving alcohol to minors(those under 21 years of age.) Serving alcoholic beverages at congregational events where minors are present is strongly discouraged as a matter of hospitality. If minors are present, alcohol must be served at a separate station that is monitored at all times. Alcohol may not be served at a youth event oryouth sponsored event. (See ECCT Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth.)
  • Moderation is observed in the serving and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Food must be served when alcohol is present.
  • No business or open discussion of issues is conducted during or after the serving of alcohol. Business includes the work of vestry, discernment and recruitment committees, all church committees and councils, and church schools.
  • Any beverage or food that contains alcohol must be clearly labeled as such.
  • The offering of alcohol must not be advertised or promoted in any way, and shall not be the primary purpose of the event. Alcohol may never be used as an enticement for any function (e.g. wine tasting, wine & cheese, BYOB dinner, etc.)
  • Prior to any event that is not “usual and customary” and/or involves tenants, the clergy, wardens and vestry determine whether liquor liability insurance coverage is needed. Church events that are not “usual and customary” include events at which alcohol is sold and/or the serving of alcohol on church property by a tenant (e.g. wedding reception, civic group dinner, etc.) Consulting with a liability insurance carrier is advised.
  • All individuals, groups or organizations sponsoring an activity or event at which alcoholic beverages are served must have prior permission from the clergy, wardens and vestry. Such individuals, groups or organizations must also assume responsibility for those persons who become visibly intoxicated and must provide alternative transportation for anyone whose capacity to drive is visibly impaired. Consulting with a liability insurance carrier is advised.