Bishop Charles H. Mason Patterson Sr. asked God to show him a “new face” for evangelism and God gave him bikers.
Motorcycle riders gathered Sunday (April 23) at Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ for a “City-wide Blessing of the Bikes.”
Bishop Patterson said the event was a “first” for him, but bike clubs and pastors all over the country have annual prayer ceremonies at the beginning of “riding season.”
“I got the idea from my good friend Bishop Joseph Chase,” said Bishop Patterson. “We are both members of the riding community, and he told me about these prayer ceremonies held every year. Bishop Chase conducted our blessing ceremony, and it was beautiful.”
Bishop Patterson said the prayer service is a part of his effort to increase Pentecostal’s outreach to the community.
“God has given me a desire to connect with the community, to be in tune with the needs,” said Bishop Patterson. “I want the church’s fingerprint on the community. I asked the Lord to show me a new face of evangelism. ‘Blessing of the Bikes’ is the beginning of this new face of evangelism.”
Bishop Chase, a member of COGIC’s Board of Bishops, said Bishop Patterson inspired him as he shared his vision for discovering a “new face on evangelism.”
“Ministry must extend beyond the church walls,” said Bishop Chase. “Bishop Patterson’s ‘new face of evangelism’ struck a chord with me because we live in a day when the church must be creative in sharing the gospel of Jesus.
“I came home with a desire for new opportunities for outreach. We are a mouthpiece for Jesus, but He also needs our hands and feet.”
Bishop Chase is founding prelate of the Greater Jamaica Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. He pastors New Community Temple COGIC in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Bishop Chase started biker blessings more than a decade ago.
“I wanted to reach out to bikers all over the city,” said Chase. “Virginia has a huge biking community. When riding season begins in spring, we hold a blessing service, asking for God’s protection.
“It actually started because my church would pray for me because they would be concerned for my safety. I wanted to extend that concern to other bikers.”
Bishop Chase said there is a second blessing ceremony at the end of riding season that looks different from the first blessing.
“At the first blessing, we ask God for protection,” said Bishop Chase. “But at the end of the season … we are thanking the Lord for His protection. It is a praise service.”
Bishop Patterson gave each biker a prayer cloth and a small vial of anointed oil.
“We gave out handkerchiefs and oil which we had prayed over,” said Patterson. “Bikers can keep those with them throughout the riding season. We believe God will honor those tokens of prayer as they ride all across the country.”
James Franklin, public relations officer for “Pound 4 Pound Motorcycle Club,” said the blessing is a must, especially when riding season begins.
“Some bikers only ride during the season, but we ride all year ’round,” said Franklin. “Besides getting a blessing, when we are on the road, we always form a circle and pray together for God’s protection.”
Johnny Gray, a member of the “Notorious Ones,” said the old image of the rough, motorcycle rider no longer exists.
“Believe it or not, bikers are very spiritual,” said Gray, who club members call ‘Joka.’
“I’m self-employed. Many bikers are business owners, doctors, attorneys, ex-military — professional men and women. We believe in getting the blessing. And when it’s time to travel, we don’t pull onto the road unless we have prayed. We even have a chaplain.”
Franklin, who is called “Wild Child,” said bikers don’t just ride for pleasure.
“We have charitable projects and events throughout the year, especially Christmas,” said Franklin. “Bikers I know are some of the best guys you’ll ever meet.”