Over 25 motorcyclists roared through Corscicana, Texas, to take part in the United Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts (UMME)s 27-mile ride, rally and picnic. The early Sunday gathering marked the near third-year anniversary of the motorcycle ministry.
"UMME is unique because who would have ever thought that riding a motorcycle would be an outreach to people," said Sandra Hughes, one of the riders. "Some people view bike riding as something like a gang of outlaws but we are Christians. It is all about God."
Since its Dec. 2001 beginning, the group has blossomed into seven chapters with more than 200 members in the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference of the United Methodist Church, and in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois.
"Were not bad people. Were good people. We enjoy it," added Suzanne Armstrong, a rider from First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas, and a member of the Mansfield chapter.
Guy Mordecai, one of the founders of the Bikers ministry, explained the reason why such a ministry is effective.
"The church, you know, isn't your grandma's church anymore. People are looking for new things," Guy said.
His wife, Cathy, also explained why she decided to continue riding even after becoming a United Methodist pastor.
I didnt want to have to deal with the stereotypes," she said. Now, "I enjoy the freedom. It is incredible to be on a motorcycle and smell every smell and count cows."
Once the ministry began growing, the Mordecais sought approval from the Central Texas Conference. Soon after, Bishop Benjamin Chamness approved the group as a conference-related entity. He was presented with a UMME jacket during the 2003 annual conference session.
After becoming an official ministry, the UMME members began wearing colors on their backs that bear the UMCs Cross and Flame logo, the United States flag, the state flag, a ribbon with UMME, and a ribbon showing the local church affiliation.
Not all of UMMEs members are United Methodists. Many who ride with local chapters are of other denominations. "UMME is for anyone who wants to ride with other Christians," the Rev. Mordecai said.