A church service held in a pub follows the example of Jesus, claims a local vicar.

Rev Derek Walmsley, of St Mark's Church, Utley, says Jesus liked a drink as much as the next man and there is nothing wrong with holding a service in a public house.

He said: "Jesus had a few pints every now and again. He turned water into wine. I think he was a bit of a party animal really.

"It isn't compulsory to have a service in a church - I think each to their own. And there is something good about taking this stuff out into the real world."

The service, at the Roebuck, in Utley, followed on from a venture in a café - it moved to the pub when numbers began to dwindle. The group studies the Bible in a book group format. Each week a member reads a section at home then tells the story to the rest of the group members, who try to apply it to their lives.

Mr Walmsley added: "It's been fascinating how it's brought stories to life - we often say I've never noticed that before'.

"If people don't agree with this they have missed the point. We have had people contact us over the Internet - we're attracting international attention."

He also confessed the story of Onan, in Genesis, led to a great discussion on sex and morality. Roebuck landlord Darren Bacon wished the group well. He said the Roebuck was a community pub and the group was more than welcome to use it.

And the venture has the blessing of the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev David James. He said: "I think it's great that, while they're having a pint, people in Utley can now eavesdrop on animated discussions about the Bible. It's obviously proving very valuable to the people taking part in the discussions and intriguing to those around them.

"I'm greatly encouraged by the initiative and creativity many churches are showing in finding ways of taking the church to where people are, rather than always expecting them to come to us."