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Wine before breakfast? Yes, you read that right. At the University of Alberta, the Christian Reformed campus ministry hosts an early morning worship and Eucharist community that meets every Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Led by Ministry Associate Rick Van Manen, the CRC chaplain for the university, the ecumenical community gets up early to partake before there is much movement at all on campus.

Van Manen got the idea from Brian Walsh, campus minister at the University of Toronto. As Van Manen explained, the name is “catchy, easy to remember, and piques one’s curiosity—and all of these make it perfect for a university campus.”

Usually between five to 15 members gather each week for singing, a message, prayer, and communion.

The preaching, usually by Van Manen, focuses on a series of texts that he chose beforehand. “We are a community that is committed to being shaped by the biblical story, so preaching is an essential part of what we do at Wine Before Breakfast,” he said.

Prayers are usually read in the form of a liturgy written either by Van Manen or one of the other participants.

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper is, of course, central to Wine Before Breakfast. “Our gathering around the table is the means by which we remember and participate in the life and death of Jesus. Participation in the death of Jesus empowers us with the very life of Christ so that we may testify to the grace and love of God in the midst of our academic life on campus,” Van Manen said.

After every service the participants enjoy a continental breakfast, during which they catch up with each other and reflect on the text for that day.

The campus ministry at the University of Alberta is supported by Classis Alberta North (a regional group of Christian Reformed churches).

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