Motorcyclists gather in Gautier for Blessing Of Bikes

Published 2:53 pm Friday, March 23, 2012

More than 800 motorcycles rumbled onto the grounds of First United Methodist Church of Gautier on Saturday to participate in the 12th annual Blessing of the Bikes, an event hosted by local chapters of the Christian Motorcycle Association.

Following an invocation, dozens of small groups could be seen amid the many rows of bikes with their heads bowed in prayer.

“It’s not about the little blue sticker they get after their bikes are blessed,” said Drew Ford, president of God’s Gulf Riders of Gautier. “It’s not about the bike. It’s about Jesus, and the Christian Motorcycle Association’s goal is to take the name of Jesus into the biker community.”

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Greetings between old and new friends could be heard over the music as leather-clad bikers made their way around the aisles of all the different styles of motorcycles.

“This is also a big social event,” Ford said. “And a lot of the people here will leave and go ride together afterwards and just make a day of it, enjoying the camaraderie on such a beautiful day.”

In addition to all the various Gulf Coast chapters of biker associations present, such as the Southern Coast Riders, the Asgards and the Banditos, bikers from Alabama and Louisiana came to have their bikes blessed.

Also in attendance were three of the Pascagoula Police Department’s motorcade officers, who stopped by on their own time to have their bikes blessed.

“We asked permission from the lieutenant to come over when we were done working,” officer Rob Bennett said. “We ride every day, sometimes in very dangerous situations, so we just wanted our bikes to be blessed.”

“We weren’t made to come over here,” officer Bryan Alford added. “We wanted to come over even though we are technically off work right now. Prayer never hurt anyone.”

After the blessings and the prayers were finished, many of the riders stayed around for some of the activities — bike games such as the “slow race,” where people compete to see who can go the slowest on their bikes, and a game in which bikers are given a net and take turns scooping up fake road kill.

An early-morning breakfast was served to everyone present prior to the blessings, and there were children’s activities. More than 70 prizes were awarded for various categories of motorcycles and to the winners of the bike games.

“It is a fact that since CMA started the Blessing of the Bikes, injury and death rates have declined in the state of Mississippi,” CMA member Terry Turgeau of Pascagoula said.

“We are all Christians and as long as you have Jesus in your heart, you can pray for somebody or with groups of people, and that’s what they are out there doing.”

The Christian Motorcycle Association is a worldwide evangelistic outreach organization with chapters in every state, as well as in many countries around the world.