MASON, W.Va. — Members of Soul Harvest Church are pulling together and gearing up for the church’s annual — and, what some may call unusual — community outreach on July 20.
It’s called Biker Sunday.
One of the outreach’s coordinators and church member, Rochelle Lamm, said this is the third year Soul Harvest will hold a Biker Sunday event and that it’s proven to be a great way for the church to reach out to the biker community.
“We actually have a lot of bikers at our church, and so all of us just kind of came up with the idea and took it to our pastor and said, ‘This sounds like something we’d like to do,’” she said. “We just want to reach out to the biker community and show them that this church is open to everybody. We’re a welcoming church and we like to have fun. The church and the pastor got on board with it and here we are.”
Following the 10 a.m. service with a message from Soul Harvest Pastor Jason Simpkins, Biker Sunday will feature a group bike ride, a bike show and free food and activities for all ages.
New to the event this year are the bike games, which include a slow race, barrel race, balloon toss, tire toss, tennis ball race and paintball target shooting. Gift certificate prizes will be given to the winners.
“I think we just wanted to have more fun with it this year,” Lamm said. “I think sometimes people get the wrong impression that to be a Christian you have to be stuffy, you can’t have fun and you have to be boring. And that’s not what it’s all about, you know. You can still have fun, and that’s what we want people to see.”
There will also be bounce houses and water inflatables for kids.
Free food to be served at the event includes coffee and donuts at 9 a.m. before the morning service, and smoked pulled pork and brisket for lunch following the service, Lamm said.
Bill Davis, event coordinator and church member, said Soul Harvest decided to hold the event at the church this year, at 500 Adamsville Road, instead of in Mason Park as they have in previous years so that they can have more room.
“Last year, because of the rain, the number of bikes was down but the attendance was still up. We still had about 800 people come during both our first and second year,” he said.
Davis also said the first year the bike show featured approximately 100-140 bikes.
Due to road construction, the bikers were not able to take a ride before the show last year, but Davis said the group plans to ride this year, immediately following the service.
“Our plan is to do the ride again. What we’ll do is we’ll leave from the church, go through New Haven, hit the back country and come back down West Columbia and then back to the church. I know the first year, the people in the country areas weren’t expecting it, and I think we had just about 100 bikes on the ride, so it was really a thrill for the people out in the country to see all these people on motorcycles out on a country road.”
Davis said the bike show will award trophies to first, second and third place in the categories of American, Metric (Japanese) and customized bikes. Additionally, there will be a “Pastor’s Choice” award.
Lamm said another goal of Biker Sunday is to break down any misrepresentations or stigmas that some people may have regarding the relationship between church and bikers.
“It’s usually just from not understanding or not knowing and getting the wrong impression,” she said. “For us, this gives us an opportunity to open the church to show that bikers aren’t bad. On the opposite of that too, we’re trying to show the bikers that the church isn’t bad, either. I think it’s a way to try and bridge the gap.”
Davis also spoke about the impact that a Biker Sunday he attended at a different church had on him, and said that conducting a Biker Sunday event is a key way for the church to reach people.
“We have a large motorcycle community for as small as our area is,” he said. “I just think it’s a great way to bring people in. It may be the only time that someone sets foot in a church and it just gives them the opportunity to hear the word and maybe be touched by it. Our goal is to see souls saved. And we just think that it’s a way to reach the bikers and do that.”