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Despite the statistics, it's not mission impossible.

A young farmer warned me my first year in Pardeeville: "Might not be too many men in church next week, but don't take it personal. We'll all be out looking for our buck." He was right. Five years later, I still steel myself for minimal male attendance the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Here in rural Wisconsin, one of the year's high and holy days is the opening day of deer season. Preparations begin long before. In September hunting gear appears on the shelves of the local True Value: rifles, shells, scent, and jumpsuits in brilliant hunter's orange. It's all pointing to the big day: the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The absence of men that weekend is tolerable because it's only once a year, but there is a chronic absence of men from many of our churches, which is intolerable. The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship reports that in the 1950s their membership had a ratio of 53 percent women to 47 percent men. Today the male percentage has fallen to 39 percent. A constant lack of men ...

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