It was a Sunday during Advent, and inside a small pub a few blocks up from the north shore of Lake Superior, 17 people gathered around four bar-top tables shoved into a ring.

Betsy Nelson, the bar’s cook, lit two candles with a cigarette lighter as Addison Houle strapped on an acoustic guitar and sang a slightly off-key rendition of “We Three Kings.” Curt “Fish” Anderson sipped a beer as TVs overhead flickered with NFL pregame shows.

“Father, thank you for this time we can share on Sunday morning with new friends,” prayed Chris Fletcher, an emergency medical technician, part-time bartender and seminary student who has led this service every Sunday morning at Dunnigan’s Pub & Grub since last summer. “We’re getting to know you, and getting to know each other better.”

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