Vernors Ginger Ale and the Church

Vernors is a strange story. You don’t find it that often outside of Greater Detroit. Over the years I have occasionally had it. I’ve always drank Ginger Ale. Every now and again I would drink “that Ginger Ale” and not remember what it was called. It would settle an upset stomach or just seem extra refreshing.

Vernors Sign
Vernor’s Ginger Ale wall sign at the corners of Joy Road and Inkster in Westland, MI.

I’d ask Christina, “What was the name of that Ginger Ale I had that one time?” Her reply was usually something like, “It must have been Canada Dry. Maybe?” I’d say, “Yeah, maybe…” Then we came to Livonia and I re-discovered Vernors! I love the stuff. It’s a Detroit classic. Well… sort of…
“Vernors is the oldest surviving ginger soda sold in the United States, although there were a number of brands of ginger ale, ginger soda, and ginger beer sold in commerce prior to 1866.”
For years it was produced at a factory on Woodward Avenue. (Detroit’s Main Street) It was primarily a regional drink. Today, the patent is owned by A&W Cooperation and widely distributed, though Michigan remains a top market. It is a Detroit drink, still drank in and around Detroit, but manufactured and bottled in Texas! What’s my point?
Don’t stay stuck in the past. For generations Vernors has been used as a soft drink and said to even have curative properties by Michigan mom’s who are fabled to have kept a bottle in the medicine cabinet. A Boston Cooler is a root beer float with Vernors as the drink. It is said to have been invented in the famed Boston-Edison Historic District of Detroit mansions. Vernors is legendary!
It is also an icon of the past that found its way forward through a series of reinventions of itself. It is essentially the same thing as always, but has been brought into the present and the future through changes in its packaging and presentation.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV84)
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (Philippians 3:14-15 NIV84)
Harry Emerson Fosdick put it this way, “To see the emergent truths there to which the future belongs, and then to unfold and release them into new meanings and applications, that is to be up to date.” (Successful Christian Living, Harper 1937)
It is like a certain quotation Christina and I have become fond of, “You can’t raise your children the same way your parents did. They raised you for a world that no longer exists.”
Carrying ancient truths, living in the Kingdom, proclaiming the Gospel in ways modern ears can hear without altering the message, that is the calling of every generation. Be careful staying stuck in the past. We may find comfort there, but neither the future nor the Kingdom lives there.


Published by Mt Hope Congregational Church

Mt Hope Congregational is a collection of followers of Jesus bound together by a covenant to be the people of God in Livonia, Michigan, the surrounding area, and around the world!