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'Cycles line sanctuary at Mennonite church

May 31, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

POND BANK, Pa. -- It was preferred parking Sunday for motorcyclists.

As people riding Harley-Davidsons and Hondas arrived at Pond Bank Mennonite Church, they were given the option of bypassing the parking lot and entering the church's main doors -- still on the bike.

A dozen motorcycles trimmed with leather accents and a rainbow of colored panels lined the sanctuary's aisles during the message from visiting speaker John Schmid.

After the sermon, the guests were invited to share a special lunch, ride and ice cream as part of the second annual "Motorcycle Sunday" at the church off Pa. 997 north of the Penn National Golf Club and community.

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"We just thought it'd be a good way to reach the community," Pastor Marlin Ebersole said.

Joel Sollenberger, chairman of the church elders, said he and his wife enjoy riding motorcycles. He heard that a church in the South allowed motorcyclists to park inside.

"I thought, 'That'd be kind of cool. Let's try something like that,'" Sollenberger said.

The 2008 event drew 33 motorcycles to the Duffield Road church on a hot July day. Organizers moved the event to this weekend in hopes that the weather would be milder, and the event brought out at least 15 more bikes.

Mike and Karen Brindle of Chambersburg, Pa., were unable to attend last year, but they each arrived on a motorcycle this year. The pair color-coordinated their shirts with their respective bikes -- Mike's Honda Goldwing and Karen's Honda Shadow.

"We have friends that come here," Mike Brindle said.

"It's a good way to meet people and enjoy the beauty that God created," Karen Brindle said.

Sollenberger said church officials tried to pick a speaker and music that would appeal to a larger crowd of guests. Schmid, who incorporated guitar music into his message about the prodigal son, hosts a prison ministry in Ohio.

Ebersole expressed hope that guests would return for regular services, much like some did after the first Motorcycle Sunday in 2008.

"We had a number of people continue to come to church here," he said.

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