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Bikers share the Gospel

June 19, 2005|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - It was Saturday morning and the parking lot at Fountainhead Plaza was brimming with bikers and their motorcycles.

Talk turned to tires and sprockets, pistons and push rods - and God.

The bikers are members of the Kingdom Heirs, a local chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association, a nonprofit, interdenominational organization dedicated to taking the Gospel on the road.

The CMA was founded in the early 1970s by Herbert Shreve, an Arkansas minister, who wanted to find a way to connect with his renegade son, who loved motorcycles.

Today, there are more than 800 chapters in the United States, with more than 100,000 members. The CMA also has chapters in Europe, Australia and Asia.

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According to Andy Carrier, president of the Kingdom Heirs, the Washington County chapter was formed around 1994.

"It started out with four or five members," the Williamsport resident said. "Since then, we've grown so much that we've spawned two new area chapters in Frederick and Martinsburg, W.Va."

Carrier said he became involved with the CMA because of the Christian fellowship.

"I wanted to get away from the party crowd," he said.

"There are a lot of motorcycle clubs out there, but there's nothing like this," Carrier said. "We're not really a club. We're a ministry."

"We're all about service," said Sam Bowers of Clear Spring, a member of the local group since the late 1990s. "We set up booths at bike rallies, where we spread the word. We've done fundraisers. And we've helped other biker organizations whenever they've needed a little support."

Traveling to bike shows, Bowers said members never have encountered problems with the more hard-core bikers.

"There's a mutual respect among all bikers," he said. "Sometimes, they ask questions because they're curious about our group. But we've never had problems. There's one common factor that binds us all - motorcycling."

Garnett Miller of Smithsburg is one of the many women involved in the Kingdom Heirs.

"My husband is a member and kept encouraging me to take lessons," Miller said. "He's been a Harley man for years, but I was a little scared. Finally, I signed up for lessons at the Motor Vehicle Administration, and now I love it."

Miller said she even purchased her own bike, "which is powerful, but lightweight."

Carrier said the group meets monthly for breakfast, followed by a ride, weather permitting. On Saturday, the group met up with another biking group for a ride to Antietam National Battlefield.

Prior to every ride, Carrier said the group gathers to say a prayer for safety.

Being a Christian is the only requirement for joining the group, he said.

"While most of our members ride motorcycles, we do have some members who do not ride," Carrier said. "They're involved because they love the Christian fellowship."

For more information about the Kingdom Heirs, call Sam Bowers at 301-842-2026.

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