A POWERLIFTING vicar is spreading the word with weights after finding an unexpected home for his faith.

Reverend David Brae, 39, has been putting his faith in the gym, ‘repping for Jesus’ with more than 200 kilogram weights while giving unexpected sermons to gym-goers in need.

The former keen rugby player was forced to give up the sport after one too many black eyes in church, hanging up his boots and picking the barbells instead.

He said: “I took up powerlifting about six years ago. I used to play a lot of rugby when I was growing up, but I had to stop because I was leading church services with broken fingers and black eyes. I was waking up on Sunday mornings with my body aching.

“I once had to do a communion service with only one eye working, one of the bishops said I might have to start thinking about hanging up my boots.”

The vicar found faith in powerlifting and has even seen fellow powerlifters benefit from his presence — garnering attention in t-shirt reading ‘reps for Jesus’ and even competing in powerlifting tournaments.

He said: “Powerlifting is really part of my faith. I feel really close to God when I exercise, it’s the ability to exercise my belief — movement is a gift from God. The gym has always been a great place to display my faith.

“People are always surprised when they see a vicar in the gym and once you start to lift above 200kg, people start to take notice. Other men in the gym come to me about my faith and share worries or struggles that they would not share with other people. It’s a space they feel secure in and that’s why it’s such an important place, I’m someone they can talk to and I’m not going to gossip around the gym about it.

“It’s a really positive environment, everyone is encouraging each other to be their best.”

Reverend Brae even found the solution to parishioners showering him with sweets: “It was a great way to lose weight. I tend to get a lot of cake from parishioners, you do get the whole ‘more tea vicar?’ thing. I went from 18 to 13 stone.”

The reverend will soon be moving parishes, from Bacup to St Peter’s in Halliwell where he will be an associate minister.