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MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — As can be the case with most avid fishermen, making Sunday church services when there’s a good bite can be a bit of a challenge for Mankato area anglers Tom Brunz and Tom Davis.

Their participation in numerous fishing tournaments spread near and far during the open water months occasionally makes their attendance sporadic at best.

Sometimes, the anglers admit, their minister at Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato even has good-naturedly asked as he greets them on a Sunday morning if they’re new to the congregation.

Now deep into winter, their attendance to hear his sermons is more regular.

And as witnesses to their Christian faith, the two are spreading the gospel of fishing and the great outdoors to anyone interested in listening.

About a year ago, Davis and Brunz, who became fishing partners through their shared faith and a passion for fishing, founded Reel Faith Outdoors. The two anglers frequently fish as a team in the Full Throttle Outdoors walleye circuit, a faith-based walleye fishing tournament.

“It started out as Reel Faith Fishing, but then we figured we ought to expand it a bit,” Brunz said. “We wanted to keep it pretty informal with guys willing to share their knowledge in fishing, hunting and camping while getting closer to their creator.”

While the Reel Faith events are grounded in Christian faith and the belief that the great outdoors is a gift from God, the meetings aren’t for proselytizing.

“We don’t preach,” Davis said. “We do close our meeting in prayer but other than that, we just happen to meet in a church.”

Brunz, a longtime professional angler who regularly fishes the FLW Walleye and MWC Walleye tournament circuit, said Reel Faith has allowed him to share his years of fishing knowledge with others.

“I’ve fished from New York to Montana, to Arkansas and all across the Midwest,” he said. “This has given me the chance to share my expertise and help shorten the learning curve to help people with their fishing experience.”

Besides holding once-a-month meetings, Reel Faith Outdoors sometimes holds special events. Last summer, for example, Brunz and Davis hosted a group of senior citizens, including some who use wheelchairs, for a fishing outing.

Typically, the free meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at Crossview Covenant Church.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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