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Blessing of the Bikes: Kirkland church prays for safe riding season

After losing fellow riders in motorcycle crashes, Mary Ellen Taylor prays every time she goes for a ride.

But the experienced biker said nothing compares to a group praying over a motorcycle and its rider, which is why she’s had her bike blessed for years.

“To have it done in a group setting adds that much more power,” Taylor said. “It’s really an emotional experience to lay hands on each other and pray. It’s almost a sensation running through our hands.”

Next week, she’ll continue the tradition of coming together with the community to pray for a safe riding season.

The Kirkland First United Methodist Church will host its third annual Blessing of the Bikes and family fun day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 17, at the Franklin Township Park on the corner of Third and South streets in Kirkland.

The free event is co-sponsored by the Kirkland Youth and Community Organization and will feature a vendor fair, three Christian bands, a bake sale, bike blessings and events for children. The bake sale will benefit the youth group’s mission trip to New Orleans.

All bikers and community members are invited to take part in the event.

Co-organizer Lorene Finkle has hopped on the back of a bike only a couple of times in her life, including one ride that ended in a non-fatal crash. She said the event is meant to give riders a sense of comfort, but also to remind them to take their own precautions.

“It’s a recognition that it is dangerous to ride a bike, but there is a blessing in it,” Finkle said. “We want to bless the riders for a safe season they can enjoy.”

Steel Witness, the Rockford chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association, will help bless the bikes. Beyond praying to “bless this bike and all who ride her,” the group plans to hand out packets with Bibles, rags and other materials for bikers.

Steel Witness chapter president Tony Voshel said the blessing connects a feeling many bikers have with a shared experience of praying to God, preparing them for a safe riding season.

“Motorcycle riders in general want to feel like they have a higher power protecting them,” Voshel said.

Voshel said the prayer will ask for protection when riding from things like obstructions in the roadway, unsafe drivers and other potential dangers.

Children also will be able to participate in the blessing by having their bicycles blessed and worked on at a tune-up station run by Steel Witness.

“They’re a precious gift from God and we want to make sure we protect them, too,” Voshel said.

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