Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 5, 2014

Riders and their passengers participate in 12th annual ‘Blessing of the Bikes’

BURKE’S GARDEN, Va. — Sunday afternoon was a beautiful day to spend time outside enjoying nature, and the promise of receiving a blessing as well drew a group of more than 300 people to the former Burke’s Garden Elementary School for the 12th annual “Blessing of the Bikes,” sponsored by several churches in the Burke’s Garden area.

“At church this morning, someone said: ‘None of them look like preachers, preacher,’” Pastor Kevin Richardson said to the crowd of bikers and riders who came to receive a blessing. “Welcome to our annual Blessing of the Bikes.”

Five pastors shared the blessing responsibilities with Richardson, including Pastor Steve Aker, Fred Lawless, Doug Fox and Paul Tomkiel who spent time with each of the 182 bikes that came out for the event. Most of the bikes had both a driver and a passenger.

“This is my wife’s bike,” Harold Turpin said as he and his wife, Brenda, walked back to their Honda Goldwing Trike after the service. “She don’t leave home without it.”

“This is a ministry to the people,” Pastor Fred Lawless said. “We give each rider a badge and a copy of the new testament. All of the pastors but one are riders too, and we’re working on him,” he said as Lutheran Pastor Paul Tomkiel joined in the conversation.

When Reverend Rodney Lawson, pastor of Rocky Gap United Methodist Church,  approached Alex Martin and his motorcycle, he had to ask what kind of bike it was.

“It’s a 1976 750 Honda,” Martin answered, but it didn’t look like one. Martin found the old motorcycle standing upside down leaning against a barn wall in Lebanon, Va., and has transformed it into a work of art with a homemade frame and fabricated parts right down to the seat that Martin fabricated out of an old grill.

Lawson and Martin both placed their hands on the seat of the bike as Lawson prayed.

After the blessings, most of the riders took a spin around the garden that is often called “God’s Thumbprint.” The sun shined brightly on the riders as they rode out to enjoy the day.

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