Pastor revs up a blessing for bikers


Dressed in his collar and white robe, the Rev. Jerry Lowans stood before the congregation gathered in the church parking lot. He asked everyone to be quiet and prayerful. He then closed his eyes, raised his hands upward and prayed for a blessing on motorcycles.

Lowans, pastor of Washington Square United Methodist Church and St. Matthews United Methodist Church, both in Hagerstown, said he has been riding motorcycles since he was 16. Today, he rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom.

Lowans was considering ways to provide outreach to the church neighborhoods when it occurred to him to do something involving what he knew - namely, motorcycles.

Lowans said he had heard of motorcycle blessing events. He did some research and ran his ideas by church members, who gave him the go-ahead to plan an event.


Saturday afternoon, a sizable crowd gathered in the Washington Square parking lot for Burgers, Blessings and Bikes. People ate hamburgers and hot dogs, bought tickets for door prizes and visited a missions table. There was music playing from a sound system as judges surveyed the 20 or so motorcycles lined up in the lot.

At 2:30 p.m., Lowans directed riders to take to their motorcycles to prepare for a ride. Then, he prayed the blessing.

"Bikers are a special breed of people, and we ask you to protect us with a special blessing," he prayed. "You tell us where two or more are gathered, you will be there with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. Bless us in your holy name and keep us safe."

Kingdom Heirs, the Hagerstown chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, assisted Lowans with organizing the event. Brenden Slifer, president of the chapter, said motorcycle blessings are not uncommon.

"It's simply to pray for the safety of riders, the safety and condition of the bike. The general blessing for safety is what it's all about," Slifer said. "We are pretty vulnerable on two wheels with no protection around us. If we can have the Lord's blessing of protection wherever we go, that's definitely a good thing."

Sam Bowers, 59, of Clear Spring, is a member of Kingdom Heirs who rode his motorcycle at the event.

"It's all about ministering to bikers," Bowers said. "We just come out and get together and ride, and we talk to them about the Lord."

Ann Mazingo, 61, of Hagerstown, a member of Washington Square United Methodist Church for 27 years, said the church just celebrated Lowans' one-year anniversary as pastor there. Mazingo said she liked Lowans' idea to use his interest in motorcycling as an evangelistic opportunity.

"Most (Washington Square) members drive in, they're not part of the neighborhood and we are trying to reach people in the neighborhood," Mazingo said. "Even if it's just in the parking lot, it gives them a sense of peace. It keeps them in touch and let's them know that if they ever need us, they can reach out to us."

The money raised from Saturday's event will be used toward a parish nurse program serving Washington Square, St. Matthews and their surrounding neighborhoods, Lowans said.

The Herald-Mail Articles