Motorcyclists hit the road for good causes, religious fellowship

5/31/2013
BY TK BARGER
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
The Christian Cruisers of the Toledo Area, a local chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association, hosts a
The Christian Cruisers of the Toledo Area, a local chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association, hosts a "Blessing of the Bikes" at International Park in Toledo.

One group has a focus to minister to motorcyclists. The other rides in religious fellowship.

And that blessed biker in front of you could be a member of the Christian Cruisers or the Wind Worshippers, cyclists with a sense of the sacred.

The Christian Cruisers, the Toledo chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, recently held its annual fund-raising event called Run for the Son, which on May 4 involved a ride from International Park to Cygnet, complete with motorcycle escort from the Lucas County Sheriff’s Department.

Before the riders hit the road, there was a blessing of the bikes, with members of the chapter going from motorcycle to motorcycle offering prayer and a blessing sticker for the motorcycle.

Bill Giezie, president of Christian Cruisers of the Toledo Area.
Bill Giezie, president of Christian Cruisers of the Toledo Area.

“We just ask you to put your protective shield around this rider and this bike, Lord, that he have a safe riding season. Keep his heart focused on you and keep his bike upright,” the group’s president, Bill Giese, said in a prayer over Toledoan John Brown’s motorcycle.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association ministry, started in 1975, financially supports four areas: helping the motorcycling community; funding the Jesus film, used worldwide for evangelism and translated into more than 1,160 languages; providing Bibles in countries that might not have access to them, and giving transportation — motorcycles, boats, camels, and other forms of transit— to pastors in countries where travel is necessary.

“CMA also has its own Bible,” Mr. Giese said. “It is the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs, and we pass these out to people. In it are stories about members of CMA; in fact, one of the stories is about the couple who founded the Christian Cruisers here in Toledo, Denise and Chuck Poage.”

Started in the 1990s, the group now meets on the third Saturday each month at 9 a.m. at the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission’s Outreach Center, 670 Phillips Ave. The Rev. Tom Clapsaddle, the mission’s executive director, is the Christian Cruisers’ chaplain. Mr. Giese, who worked in health care before his retirement, has been president of the group since January.

“As the weather’s getting better, you see more fellowship events [after the meeting] that result in riding your motorcycle to some restaurant,” said Mr. Giese, who has been riding motorcycles since 1978. “During the week, somebody might put together an impromptu ride, and it will be to go out for ice cream.”

Loren Knipp, of Perrysburg, attaches the
Loren Knipp, of Perrysburg, attaches the "I was Blessed in 2013" sticker to the windshield of his 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan. It was his first time attending the event.

The club’s focus, he said, “is which events going on in the community can we go to? We have outreaches to the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, we have outreaches to Rebeka’s Haven [the mission’s shelter for women and children]. We’ve had relationships with various community groups, and so we try to have presence in as many of those as possible.

“We practice what we preach,” Mr. Giese said. “We don’t get in anybody’s face, and many of the secular organizations have come to respect us for what we are and trust us.”

Bill Cox, a Christian Motorcyclists Association member who is a mechanic and a teacher of industrial apprenticeship classes at Owens Community College, could not attend the blessing of the bikes May 4. He leads the Wind Worshippers, so he was in the parking lot of Maumee United Methodist Church, the club’s home church, that morning getting ready for his group to ride.

The Wind Worshippers is smaller, newer — about three years old — and still finding its mission. Its main purpose is fellowship, “just getting together [in] a kind of Christian atmosphere to ride,” said Mr. Cox, who started riding in 1965. “We are going to start a little Bible study, too. We want to just get everybody together and let them know they can ride and not have to ride to the bar or something, we can all just go out and have fun. We hope we’re going to get involved in some community projects, also, so that’s our game plan.”

Riders gather, usually on the second Saturday of the month, for a long ride. On May 4, nine riders on six cycles were headed to the Whistle Stop Inn in North Baltimore for lunch. Church members, friends, and relatives were riding.

Included in the group was Diana Dunsmore of Point Place, the last to arrive because she had just left work that morning; this was her first ride with the group. She would be on the back of a bike as a passenger. When she called Mr. Cox to ask about the Wind Worshippers, “I said, ‘I’ve just purchased a bike. I have no idea how to ride it. Are you open to the idea of a woman rookie rider?’ They were so welcoming.”

The next Wind Worshippers ride, to Pemberville, is scheduled for June 8. Call the church, 419-893-8761, for more information.

Ohio Bike Week started yesterday and continues through June 9, with most activities taking place in Sandusky. The CMA will hold a prayer service in Sandusky June 2 at Mad River Harley-Davidson, 5316 Milan Rd., at 11 a.m.

Contact TK Barger at: tkbarger@theblade.com, 419-724-6278 or on Twitter @TK_Barger.