The Presbytery of the Cascades is especially a source of pride for me right now!
A few months ago the Fuller Center contacted me about one of their major fundraising programs. Their mission is to “build and repair homes in partnership with families in need.” This particular fundraiser is called the Fuller Center Bike Adventure.
This year they will sponsor two events—a 3,500-mile Seattle to D.C. trip and a 4,000-mile Parks and Peaks ride that begins and ends in Portland and includes the Redwoods, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, the Arches, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone an Glacier National Parks in an ambitious counter-clockwise circle through some of the most rugged terrain in the West. I took an immediate interest since I did a similar 4,000-mile bike ride in 2011 in the clockwise direction through much of the same territory. Like them my pedal pilgrimage began and ended in Portland.
This first week of their ambitious adventure travels completely within the bounds of Cascades Presbytery. When I talked to Connor, the tour organizer, I had this crazy idea: “What if Cascades could accommodate the twenty-five riders and their support team all eight nights that they were riding through Oregon?” At our March presbytery meeting I reported that four Cascades churches had already stepped up and I encouraged our churches in the remaining communities to consider hosting the riders.
AND YOU DID!
I am pleased to report that the Presbytery of the Cascades will be hosting the Fuller Center Bike Adventure tour EVERY night that they are in the bounds of our presbytery! I am especially pleased because as a touring cyclist myself I know how much I have appreciated it when churches and their members have hosted me after a long, sweaty day of cranking out 80 miles on the bike.
This is a shout-out to our congregations who will be hosting the Fuller Center Parks and Peaks Bike Adventure.
May 24 Colonial Heights, Portland
May 25 First, McMinnville
May 26 First, Salem
May 29 First, Bandon
May 30 First, Gold Beach
August 10 Westminster, Portland
But more than just a self-congratulatory note to us I want to use this opportunity to wonder out loud about whether we might be seeing the emergence of new forms of Christian community. I know what you are thinking, “How does a fun bike ride around the country qualify as Christian community?” But don’t dismiss this too quickly. There may be more to this than first meets the eye.
Think about it. This group of twenty-five riders will, for a limited window of eleven weeks and 77 days (which is like 1 ½ years of weekly church attendance!), do many of the same things that we do in our churches.
They are involved in MISSION. Every rider must raise a minimum of $1,500 that will be sent directly to different Fuller Center sites for the restoration and building of homes in partnership with families in need.
They WORSHIP. Every Sunday they are encouraged to worship in the congregation where they have just spent the previous night sleeping in Sunday school rooms and on padded pews. But the bulk of their worship will be cycling through God’s country, enjoying the beauty of oceans and the grandeur of mountains, crossing desolate deserts and stripping down to wash in a frigid stream. Remember, God created the Garden of Eden before God dreamed up steeples and narthexes! Nature is God’s sanctuary.
They EVANGELIZE. At every stop they ask for an opportunity to share their mission with their host churches of how they are called to help families in need restore and build homes for themselves.
They are involved in a deep expression of FELLOWSHIP. It’s one thing to enjoy Christian fellowship around cookies and coffee on Sunday. It’s another thing to spend 24 hours/day for eleven weeks, cycling with, eating with, sharing sleeping quarters, and learning to be a community that tolerates each other, supports each other, and learns to appreciate and love each other over 4,000 miles of glorious and gut-wrenching cycling. These trips are like an intensive in community-building!
And to top it off the Fuller Bike Adventure tours are open to everyone. The cyclists are dedicated Christians as well as those who just want a great adventure while supporting an important mission. But all (Christian and non-Christian alike) are asked to honor the reason for the ambitious tour—to support families in need of homes all in the name of Christ. This is Kingdom of God stuff!
I want to thank Cascades for stepping up and supporting the Fuller Center Bike Adventure. I love that this honors our traditional Presbyterian mission and does it in a particularly Pacific Northwest style. Christian mission and bikes go really well together in Oregon.
But might it be even more than that? Are we also seeing the emergence of a new style of Christian community? People coming together to live together, cycle together, learn together, struggle together for a temporary experience rooted in mission, worship, evangelism, and fellowship.
Sure sounds like church to me.
Well done Cascades. I am proud of us.