The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 8, 2014

Meet a black-belt minister

Pastor’s life blend of spiritual and physical disciplines

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— WATSONTOWN — The Rev. Ryan Krauss, pastor of Watsontown United Methodist Church, said people are “very frequently” surprised when they learn about his martial arts background.

“I guess I’m kind of ‘unassuming’ looking,” he said.

The pastor, who’s been at Watsontown UMC for two years, is a fourth-degree black belt with instructor’s certification in Tang Soo Do, a form of martial arts from Korea, similar to Tae Kwon Do, he said.

This year marks his 20th year of training.

“I’ve done it for a really long time,” he said.

While many may not see the similarities between pastoral work and martial arts, Krauss said they are complimentary.

Martial arts is, at its core, a way to physically protect people and their loved ones, he said.

“Martial arts all about safety and protection,” he said. “It’s about my well being and the well being of other people.”

Meanwhile, having a healthy spiritual life can be achieved through devotion to God, Krauss said.

“Your faith is about your spiritual well-being and your ability to relate to other people and to relate to God,” he said.

This summer, Krauss is combining his two passions, doing some instruction during the church’s Thursday Kids Cafe sessions at the Watsontown Memorial Park. Lunches are free for school children, ages 17 and under beginning June 6. The program called “Kids Cafe Watsontown” offers free lunch and fun activities daily, Monday through Friday, (except July 4) between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

While surprised, parishioners are supportive of Krauss’ martial arts practice, he said.

“There’s another gentleman in the church who’s a lifetime martial artist and he owned a studio in town ... so there’s definitely a respect locally for what martial artists accomplish,” Krauss said.

Being a full-time pastor and master-level martial artist keeps Krauss pretty busy, though he does enjoy reading and collecting Legos.

“The short answer is, I don’t have much spare time,” he said.