Oct. 14, 2004
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
The Rev. Cathy and Guy Mordecai founded United Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts.
By Linda Green*
CORCISCANA, Texas (UMNS)-A column of 25 motorcycles roared through this small Texas town on a recent Sunday morning.
stopped and stared. Who are they? Why are they here? Are they like the
Hell’s Angels who are labeled as "bad-guys," they asked.
No, these motorcycle riders are more concerned about getting into heaven.
riders traveling through town were members of the United Methodist
Motorcycle Enthusiasts, a nearly three-year old organization led by the
Rev. Cathy Mordecai and her husband, Guy. The bikers were participating
in a 27-mile ride, rally and picnic on the grounds of Pleasant Grove
United Methodist Church.
bikes, with one and two riders, lined up for the ride. Some came from
more than 100 miles away. Riders from all walks of life - including
factory workers, doctors, teachers, farmers and a bank president --
straddled motorcycles to feel the wind in their faces, enjoy the freedom
of the open road and "to just enjoy a bunch of brothers and sisters
getting together and taking a ride," said Paul Jones, who participated
at the invitation of a friend.
riders, with this United Methodist News Service writer astride the big,
black Harley-Davidson of Guy Mordecai, journeyed through town and
around the city’s Richland Chambers Reservoir, navigating the twists and
turns to the church.
church members greeted the bikers when they arrived at the Pleasant
Grove church. "Having a bike-riding pastor is unique," said Tammy Sloan.
"It is wonderful to have this at our small church. Rev. Cathy uses her
love for bikes as a gift to reach out to different types of people."
Hughes described her love for motorcycling, how she loves to feel the
air and view the openness that can’t be experienced from a car.
is unique because who would have ever thought that riding a motorcycle
would be an outreach to people," she said. "Some people view bike riding
as something like a gang of outlaws but we are Christians. It is all
"We’re not bad
people. We’re good people. We enjoy it," added Suzanne Armstrong, a
rider from First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas, and a member
of the Mansfield chapter.
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
Bikers gather in Kerens, Texas prior to a 27-mile ride.
Campbell of Lorena, Texas, pointed out that the riders might be the
only contact with Christians that some people have. He, along with Lee
Johnson, rode their motorcycles 80 miles that Sunday morning to meet up
with riders from other chapters.
Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts is the brainchild of the Mordecais.
The couple founded the biker group as a way to promote the fellowship of
Christians through a common interest and give them the opportunity to
be together doing something they are passionate about-riding
motorcycles, according to Cathy Mordecai, pastor of First United
Methodist Church, Kerens, Texas and Pleasant Grove United Methodist
Church, Corsicana. Texas.
ride because we love it. And through the church, it’s an opportunity to
change people’s minds about the stereotypes that we form about people,"
she explained. "We turned our passion for two-wheelers into a
freewheeling Methodists say their idea is catching on. They are getting
inquiries from across the country about beginning chapters of United
Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts.
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
bike ministry began after the Mordecais talked about groups within the
United Methodist Church and he asked if the denomination had an
organized motorcycle entity.
Finding that no such organized group existed they began forming a group and established a website, www.UMME.org.
They even drafted a code of conduct that requires members to conduct
themselves in a respectful Christian manner and practice safe riding
habits, so as to not reflect badly on themselves, the UMME, their local
chapter and the United Methodist Church.
"The church, you know, isn't your grandma's church anymore. People are looking for new things," Guy Mordecai explained.
47, his passion for motorcycles began as a nine-year-old, when he
received a mini-bike from his parents. "I’ve been on two wheels every
since," he said. "It is the gift that God gave me and that is what UMME
is all about, using the gift God gave you for his name."
Cathy Mordecai was going through the ordination process to be a pastor
in the United Methodist Church, she kept her love for riding motorcycles
hidden "because I didn’t 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."
the motorcycle group started growing, the Mordecais sought approval
from the Central Texas Conference. Bishop Benjamin Chamness approved the
group as a conference-related entity. He was presented with a UMME
jacket during the 2003 annual conference session.
Each chapter of UMME
is different, reflecting its membership. Chapters meet for day rides,
dinner rides, and overnight weekend rides. Members wear "colors" on
their backs which bears the United Methodist "Cross and Flame," the
United States flag, the state flag, a ribbon with UMME, and a ribbon
showing the local church affiliation.
|A UMNS photo by Linda Green
Cheryl McClelland is a member of the Mansfield Chapter of the United Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts.
wearing the "colors" the public is comforted and intrigued with the
motorcyclists, spawning questions and conversation, the couple
explained. Sometimes the questions and discussion bring new members into
all of UMME’s 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.
is going to bless Cathy in that she has started this ministry," Hughes
said, "We’ve always been the little church in the woods but through the
UMME, Cathy has taken us uptown." Membership at the Pleasant Grove
church has grown from 35 to 65 members in the past year.
McClelland, a member of the Mansfield Chapter, wanted to get a
motorcycle after witnessing the passion her husband had for riding. "I
saw his love for it and decided to get a bike. It is a rush. It is
freedom. I get to see God’s world in all of its glory."
husband, John, called UMME a "brotherhood, a bonding of souls where the
only requirement is to enjoy camaraderie, like motorcycles and love the
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.