Getting to know: New pastor avid fisherman

Michael Brunk is the new pastor at First United Methodist Church of Portales. He moved here from Albuquerque two weeks ago with his family and is still unpacking the boxes in his office. He has been a pastor for 30 years and he was born in Virginia.

What got you interested in being a pastor?

I was in a youth group and there were mentors that we had who were really excellent role models in treating people kindly and it just never occurred to me that people actually lived the Christian life at that point. These mentors truly did. So, at first it was just a desire to be like them, to work with youth or something that. As I went further down the Christian journey, God said I want you to be a pastor. Not verbally. Just from the gifts and graces that I had as s speaker when I younger and I had compassion for people.

What is your favorite meal?

It might be easier to ask what’s not my favorite meal. I love New Mexico green chilies on just about everything. I got to liking Thai food when I was in Albuquerque, just about anything that is spicy.

Do you have a favorite place you like to vacation?

Even though I was born and raised in Virginia, I have really fallen in love with New Mexico. I’ve wanted to live here since my college days. So my favorite places are generally are the San Juan River because I love fly fishing. Also, some of the smaller streams in northern New Mexico. I love the southern Rockies and the streams around here.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Micah 6:8: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

What is the most challenging part of preaching the word every week?

Making the text relatable to people’s daily lives. Ministers in my position are highly educated and trained. The temptation is to stay up in the clouds. So, the part that is ever before me is making sure I know my people well enough to know where their walk is. There’s an old scriptural adage “the word is very near them.” You have to get down where people live and that is always a challenge. You do that by good pastor care. You do that by visiting in their homes, their hospitals and their jobs. And the more kind of contact you have like that, the more your sermons are relatable.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Catching my first fish. I had a new fishing rod and I was casting on the James River (in Virginia) where I grew up. I was just practicing casting and I didn’t have any bait on or anything on the hook. As I was reeling in a small mouth bass got on my hook. I was so shocked I forgot to reel. The only thing I could think to do was to run up the bank and that was a sweet memory.

What is your favorite childhood toy?

Erector set.

— Compiled by PNT staff writer Clarence Plank