Ohio smoke shop hosts bimonthly Bible study

Eric Van Scyoc, lecturing on the miracle of the Transfiguration of Christ, is blowing a lot of smoke.
Associated Press
Jan 21, 2013



That's because he is actually puffing on a big cigar as he discusses St. Matthew's Gospel writings of Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah — back from the dead — on a mountain top.

"His face shown bright as the sun," Van Scyoc reads from the holy text, between tokes on a $10 Perdomo Grand Cru.

The preacher's listeners, all men, also are puffing big stogies, gathered at a round table in a back room of a cigar shop.

It's a twice-a-month Bible study group that meets at Cigar Cigars, a storefront smoke shop in a Rocky River shopping plaza.

"It's an opportunity to get out of the cold, have a cigar and learn some Bible," says Larry Gilbert, tapping the burning end of his smoke into a deep ceramic ash tray.

Van Scyoc, pastor of St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Rocky River, has been conducting Bible studies at Cigar Cigars for about three years.

So far, the group has puffed through John and is now smoking into Matthew.

"It's a chance to bring the Bible out from the walls of the church," he says.

Van Scyoc, 57, raised in Arkansas, had been a rock 'n roll disc jockey in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas before earning a divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1987.

"I'm doing the same thing now, but with a better product," he says.

He came to Rocky River in 1994 to pastor St. Thomas' congregation, which is tied to the Missouri Synod, a Lutheran branch that is generally conservative on social issues.

Van Scyoc says he had reservations when Cigar Cigars owner George Karitakis first approached him about conducting the back-room Bible studies.

He says he told his congregation about the idea and no one objected, so he went ahead, naming it Smokin' Bible Study.

"There are those who might say, 'What kind of a Christian would smoke a cigar?' " says Van Scyoc.

Gilbert, butting in, says, "Let that be our only sin."

The back room could be described as a manly place, rich with masculine decor — heavy leather chairs, a big trophy fish and a picture of a ship decorating walls.

"Some women have said to us, 'I'm going to come by because it shouldn't be just for men,' " says Van Scyoc.

"They're certainly welcome, but, so far," he added, exhaling an aromatic cloud, "none of them have come by."



The Answer Person

Free Cancer with every bible too!


well... it's better than those churches out west claiming that pot is their holy sacrament...


LOL, I wonder if they allow fans or gas masks? I don't like "stogies", but the rest would be interesting to hear.


You can get cancer without smoking. You can be led astray by the bible. Not everything in that book are words to live by. There is violence towards women and of course the vitriol against gays. Some passages make little or no sense. Yet millions swear by this book, written not by God or Jesus, but by regular men. We blindly accept it yet dismiss spirits (except holy), ghosts or other phenomena. Could it be we've been fooled?


Great point!




smoking increases your chances of cancer significantly.....so your point is? You may think you have been fooled but I have faith in a higher power and have read the bible.....maybe you should. There are a lot of great teachings in there.


I don't think that anyone with real spiritual belief agrees totally with the Bible. However some do use most of its passages as a guideline for living. I don't think it "fools" anyone unless you believe that every single parable and story in it isn't open to interpretation. If you do believe that it must be believed verbatum, then yes, you have been fooled. No book should be taken completely as written without some form of interpretation into its meaning. But I do believe that the Bible is a great book from which much can be learned. Please let me point out that even in the Bible, spirits (besides the Holy Ghost) are mentioned but they are interpeted by man to be something other than ghosts. Some don't even realize that.


Wouldn't a wine store be more apropos?

In what chapter and verse did Jesus transform something into a cigar?

Actually, the Bible says that Jesus was an excellent winemaker.

Kottage Kat

Jesus loves me this I know cause THE BIBLE tells me so.
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There is no other hope than Jesus.

But it is odd to be sitting around smoking cigars while studying the bible.


Isnt smoking a sin?


gather round folks, but before we start, let's all light one up for Jesus and the big man upstairs.