JESUS is recorded as telling his disciples to become fishers of
men; and one priest, a keen angler, is launching a network for
Christian fishermen (and women) who hope to use their passion to
spread the gospel.
Christian Anglers starts officially early next month, and is the
idea of the Team Rector of the Cornerstone Team in the diocese of
Leicester, the Revd Jon Barrett. The group will begin with a
website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page; it hopes to expand
into hosting events and tournaments, and even producing
angling-themed resources. Mr Barrett said that it would be both a
place for Christian anglers to gather, and an encouragement to
share their faith with their fellow fishermen.
"[It] should be a way to integrate their faith and their hobby,"
he said on Tuesday. "For some, it may work better than a
traditional home-group or a Bible study."
A journey through the American South showed Mr Barrett how
Christians there were using outdoor pursuits such as fishing and
hunting to encourage unchurched people to tackle the big questions
in life (Features, 6 December
In the UK, as many as four million people go fishing at least
once a year. "Fishing tends to be a white male, working-class
hobby," Mr Barrett said, "and that can be a demographic that the
Church doesn't find quite so easy to hit."
He envisages Christian Anglers as a kind of Fresh Expression:
encouraging Christians and non-Christians who enjoy fishing to
gather, online or in person, in the hope that, through the shared
interests in angling, some might also get hooked on church.
The Revd Stewart Bloor, a Baptist minister who, like Mr Barrett,
runs a popular fishing blog, is already on board. He has "quite a
high profile in the fishing world", and is even sponsored by tackle
companies, says Mr Barrett, who is confident that his idea will be
well received: "There is a greater openness in most churches to
going beyond what's been done before . . . taking the Church
outside the walls and then looking for relational inroads for the
Casting into a river or lake can be an almost "numinous"
experience, he said. "We are out there in the world, seeing the
beauty of creation, and can get drawn into some of the big
speculations about our place in the world."
For Christians concerned about the ethics of the pastime, Mr
Barrett said that the most common form of fishing in Britain was
catch and release: angling tended to be "a relatively harmless
pursuit for relatively harmless people".