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Preaching and drinking 

Revolution church

At Revolution's inaugural service in November 2006, minister Jonathan Hughes, 23, gazed over 30 or so faces tinged red from the Milestone's stage lights and uttered three christening words to his congregation: "I'm really stoked."

From his pulpit, a stage littered with graffiti and band stickers, one in which Hughes has graced more than once with his punk band 25 Minutes To Go, he delivers more Gen-X God speak. "Lord, thank you for being awesome."

He definitely looks more punk than preacher. Hughes wears a patterned cap, sports facial hair everywhere but the very center of his face and has an intricate tattoo spanning his entire right arm.

Jay Bakker, one of the founders of the church that began in Phoenix, then moved to Atlanta and has now branched out to Brooklyn and Charlotte followed Hughes with a few words (Yes that Bakker -- as in Jim, Tammy Faye and Jesus-themed water parks).

Bakker credited Jon and his wife and co-pastor Stephanie, former interns of Revolution Atlanta, for restoring his faith that had been waning since his mother's illness and the never-ending criticism his family has faced in the 20 years after the scandal that took the country by storm.

"I thought I was done with Charlotte," said Bakker. "Jon and Stephanie told me they wanted to do a Revolution church, and I was like 'How about Revolution Lincolnton?' You never know where God's path will lead you." Fittingly, the plans for Revolution Charlotte were hatched at the Penguin.

The shortcomings Hughes saw with the traditional church compelled him to take the pulpit. As a child in Sunday School, he remembers feeling a tremendous amount of guilt for lying and marking off Christian deeds on a public checklist his teachers made him keep.

The redemptionist message that Revolution espouses is certainly not revolutionary. "We're not here to say that it's OK to do whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, no matter how much it hurts people. We're here to say, no matter what you do, God is bigger than that. His grace is sufficient to cover all things."

Unlike driving, preaching is an endeavor that can be combined with drinking.

The drink of choice among congregates seemed to be a Pabst Tallboy (aka hipster Gatorade). The preacher sips whiskey out of a Styrofoam cup, though drinking isn't required. Stephanie, call her a prude, nurses a bottle of water.


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