After dark, the white lights that line Pittsburgh’s Station Square bounce alluringly off the sluggish waters of the Monongehela River. Here is where the city’s young corporate culture finds first-class cuisine and vibrant entertainment.
But on Thursday evenings, if they happen by Mr. C’s Lounge at the Station Square Sheraton Hotel, they will find an Episcopalian pastor delivering a sermon. It is part of a weekly event, music included, called “The Alternative Happy Hour.”
The program has everything anyone ever wanted in a happy hour, except alcohol. The pastor, Stuart Boehmig, assistant rector of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in suburban Sewickley, is part of the band he assembled, which performs weekly.
The band calls itself 101, as in Christianity 101, a basic course. Its immediate goal is to entertain; its ultimate goal is to make believers out of onlookers. The result is an evening that smacks of both night club and church.
In the late afternoon, the youthful crowd begins to arrive. It is met by “greeters,” shaking hands and handing out leaflets describing coming events sponsored by various local Christian groups.
The band begins, playing music easily recognizable by any yuppie worth his salt: Huey Lewis, Steve Winwood, the Doobie Brothers. The band intermingles Top 40 with contemporary Christian music. The sound is just as loud; the message is louder.
Twenty-five young men and women, many of them from Boehmig’s church, mingle among the crowd of some 200, getting to know the guests, looking for opportunities to invite them to area churches. Waitresses in uniform weave their ways around the small, round, wood-top tables, delivering rumless daiquiris and piña coladas ...1
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