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Bikers ride with Jesus at Orlando church (Feb. 27, 2004)

Bikers ride with Jesus at Orlando church (Feb. 27, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Bikers ride with Jesus at Orlando church

Feb. 27, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0030}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

ORLANDO - Rick Blubaugh eyes you rather suspiciously when you ask him what kind of motorcycle he rides.

"Harley Davidson Road King," he answers. "What else is there?"

There were hundreds of choices in the parking lot of Peace United Methodist Church here Feb. 15 as the church observed its annual "Biker Sunday."

Five hundred people attended the afternoon event, with many attending one of four preceding morning worship services. There were free hot dogs, hamburgers, beverages and desserts. Team X-Treem Sportbike Freestyle performed motorcycle stunts, and there were motorcycle games for attendees, as well.

John Parker was impressed with the event and said he would attend again next year. He owns a Yamaha Road Star.

"This is my first time here, and I love it," said Parker, who lives in St. Cloud and is a member of Cornerstone Cruiser Motorcycle Club. "It's more bikes here than I've ever seen in one place. I guess it's sort of like 'Bike Week' without the drunken violence. I would come again next week because I feel like I'm part of something and not all alone."

That's the idea, according to event organizer and Peace church member Mitch Edwards. He said he has seen people give their life to the Lord at the Biker Sunday events in previous years.

Edwards, who has numerous motorcycles, said he has always been active in ministering to motorcycle riders. He has been riding for more than 30 years.

"I wanted to bring them here and have them not feel threatened," he said.

Art Mack said he does feel welcomed and not at all threatened. The Sanford resident is a member of Southern Riders Motorcycle Club and has been riding motorcycles for 30 years.

"I like to pray and talk about God, and this gives me an avenue for that," said Mack, who owns a Honda Gold Wing. "It's an opportunity for me to share my faith and also see what's new."

It's a special day for Jackie and Jim Cornell. The two have been members of the Deltona Chapter of Christian Motorcycle Association (CMA) for about eight months.
CMA is a non-profit, interdenominational organization designed to reach people for Christ through motorcycling. Begun in the mid 70's, CMA is not a club, but a ministry, according to the Cornells. They say CMA allows them and other members to witness to attendees.
"I enjoy the people, the events here and the bike blessings where we lay hands on people and their bikes," Jackie said.

Trish Holbrook of Sanford said the bike blessings left a special impression with her. The member of Cruisers of Central Florida said it was her first time at the event. She also has been riding motorcycles for 30 years.

"I like the camaraderie and the blessings," said Holbrook, who owns a Honda 750 Shadow. "It feels good here."

The Rev. Dr. Phil Maynard, pastor at Peace United Methodist Church, said the reason he thinks motorcyclists and others feel so welcome at the church is because of the openness of members and their lack of barriers in reaching out to others.

"We want to show people that we have a good time here," Maynard said. "Everybody has a great time here. It's just a great day."

Maynard, who has been serving at the church for four years, said the event has grown in size each year and one couple joined the ministry of the church as a direct result of the event.

The church is always looking for innovative ways to reach the community, according to Maynard. He said the church recently started "Servant Saturday" where church members canvass a local shopping area giving out free bottled water and canned soft drinkers to drivers with a small note imprinted with the name of the church, its address and worship times.

"It's an exciting time to be here," Maynard said. "We're always looking for creative opportunities to get out and reach the people."

BeBee Jenkins is one of those people. The Lake Wales resident said she and her husband, Buck, enjoyed being at the church because it's family oriented.

"You have fathers, sons and grandchildren here," said Jenkins, who rides a Honda Magna. "What's not to like? This is my first time here. It's a very clean affair. I'm amazed, excited and delighted. I'll be back next year."


This article relates to Outreach.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.