SWANTON - "Real men," those who hunt and fish and eat venison, moose, and walleye, are the type of people Swanton Alliance Church wants to attract to its services.
It is one of the only churches in the region to host a free wild game dinner, and it is squarely aimed at men.
The church also has a mother-daughter banquet and Christmas tea aimed at drawing women into its fold.
But it's men that Dirk Albring is after for the church.
"Typically what you find when you reach the men for God is they bring their families with them," he said. "And it doesn't always work the other way around. We have a couple women who come without their husbands."
Mr. Albring, men's ministry leader for the church, says that from personal experience.
His wife went to church without him for several years. And it is his own spiritual awakening that has made him eager to organize the church's fifth annual wild game dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Swanton American Legion. Such dinners often carry prices of up to $35 a plate, and the church spent about $2,000 on last year's event, which like this year's was free.
Although the night is advertised for men, women won't be turned away. Last year some were among the crowd that numbered about 160.
Mr. Albring is hoping for 200 for an evening that is to include:
●Tomahawk throwers from Seven Eagles Historical Education Center who will give men in the crowd the chance to try throwing tomahawks after the demonstration.
●A Fort Meigs re-enactor firing an 1812 rifle.
●Woodcarving and taxidermy displays.
A guest speaker is also expected to include a Christian testimony in his talk about hunting, but, Mr. Albring said, "I don't think it will go too deep that it will scare anyone away."
Likewise, for those leery of trying alligator or kangaroo, church members will have smoked pork and deep-fried turkey for the meal that also includes salad, bread, and potatoes.
The night at the legion hall, Mr. Albring said, will be largely about giving area men a chance to talk about the deer they've downed and the fish they've caught with an appreciative crowd.
Afterward, he will drop a note in the mail giving those who attended more information about Swanton Alliance, which often draws 140 people to its Sunday services. "We leave it in God's hands at that point," he said. "We really don't want to push it heavy on them."
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