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Rally's focus is faith

September 25, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - The burly, tattooed bikers revving their motorcycle engines in the Bethel Assembly parking lot Sunday are really just, "good old boys with hearts of gold," according to Russ Cockrum, a traveling, biking, leather-wearing chaplain.

Cockrum visited Bethel Assembly for its second annual biker rally to spread his message: Jesus loves bikers, too.

"My wife and I travel all over the U.S. We feel the main problem is church expects unchurched people to come to the church. We want to take what the church represents outside," Cockrum said.

At biker rallies, Cockrum and his wife serve coffee and wash people's motorcycles, he said.

"It emphasizes the servant ministry of Jesus Christ," he said.

Cockrum has been biking for 45 years, and he feels totally comfortable spreading his message, he said.

"The harder core the bikers, the more OK they are with what we do," Cockrum said.

Pastor Terry Broadwater kicked off the biker rally by riding down the church aisle Sunday morning on his motorcycle with his wife on the back seat.

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A bike show, complete with prizes, followed services.

Sunday afternoon, a group of about 40 bikers headed down Dual Highway. The plan was to ride to Frederick, Md., and back, said Jeremy Repp, who organizes the motorcycle ministries for the church.

Melvin Burdette traveled from Middleway, W.Va., for the rally.

"Anything that's got to do with a good cause, I try to get in with it," he said.

Bikers paid a $20 fee to ride with the Bethel Assembly group. Proceeds went to the Teen Pregnancy Coalition of Washington County.

Archie Hatchell, 54, traveled from the Eastern Shore. He said "Jesus" brought him to the biker rally. Hatchell sported a "100% for Jesus" patch on his black leather vest.

"I knew we were gonna be around a bunch of believers and there'd be some fun going on - good, clean fun," he said.

Hatchell brought a friend, Tim Murray. Murray said he was turned off by organized religion after attending Catholic schools. But bikers are different, he said, "they're down to earth with heads focused high. I like that, it's good."

"People who have the spirit of freedom on bikes have the spirit to give, too," Murray said.

Pastor Terry Broadwater estimated that the rally raised about $800 for the teen pregnancy coalition.

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