The Bible had a lot to say about fishers of men, but New Salem Baptist in Soddy-Daisy is hoping its upcoming community dinner can bring in more regular fishermen.
New Salem is hosting its sixth annual Angler's Dinner Saturday, March 18. Featuring catfish and crappie caught as locally as Lake Chickamauga, the dinner will include a gospel message preached by U.S. Army Ranger Chad Chandler of Greenwood Baptist Church in Ooltewah about how outdoorsmen are welcome in the congregation.
"I think it's a challenge to reach men in general," said New Salem pastor Alan Rogers. "In our culture, church has almost been seen as a woman's thing. There are some churches with an almost two-to-one ratio of women to men."
Last year's event led several men to permanently join New Salem's congregation, which Rogers said is the overall goal. While he's heard from several fishermen that their "Sunday service" is spent out on the water in the early morning rather than in a house of worship, he hopes to convince them there can be time for both.
In fact, one of New Salem's most popular Bible study groups was formed out of last year's dinner.
"Many of these men have never been in a small group Bible study or church before," Rogers said. "It's wonderful to see.
"Most experts will tell you that for a church to reach the community, you have to learn how to reach out to men."
By incorporating them into the dinner, Rogers says his church can find common ground with outdoorsmen. One of New Salem's event coordinator, a hunter himself, believes that by refusing to hunt or fish on Sunday, he's blessed on the days he does, Rogers said.
"He likes to rib people who don't see any deer when they head out on a Sunday," Rogers laughed. "He just jokes with them, 'Well, looks like I'm more blessed than you are.'"
The dinner is expected to fill to capacity at around 500 guests. There will be children's activities, music, door prizes donated from local sporting shops, and enough food for everyone.
For more information, call New Salem Baptist Church at 842-3078.