New church rumbles into county

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

After 17 years as pastor of Ridgeview Baptist Church in Spencer County, Finchville resident Vern Hawkins felt pulled in a new direction. “I felt like the Lord was leading me to do something different,” he said.

Hawkins began the non-denominational New Hope Biker Church in January 2008. He said it was decided to remain non-denominational so that people not wishing to be identified with a particular denomination would feel comfortable attending.

The church meets at the Henry County Fairgrounds 4-H Building. “I prayed about where to have it, and this is where the Lord led us,” he said. Services are held each Thursday at 7 p.m. Hawkins said he decided on the day and time after talking to members of other biker churches. He noted that holding services on Thursday opens attendance up to folks who go to other churches on Wednesday evenings and might want to check out New Hope. “Also, bikers tend to take off on Friday for the weekends so Thursday seemed like the best day,” he said.

Decked out in biker leather covered in patches with sayings like “I ride with Jesus” he and wife Linda said they have enjoyed the Christian biker life for many years. “I like it a lot better than being in a car,” she said. They recently completed a trip that took them down the coast of Florida to Key West and back up the other side.

Vern and Linda’s son Jason, 27, is worship leader at the church. He attends Indiana University Southeast for nursing. He doesn’t own a motorcycle yet, but enjoys participating. “Right now I’m just along for the ride,” he said.

Hawkins loves taking his ministry on the road. From May 23 to June 18 of this year he participated in biker revival services in Arizona, California and Utah.

The pastor as well as members also are involved in the On Board Motorcyclists for Jesus Ministry, the Holy Ghost Riders Team, Joy Riders and Bread of Life International Ministry.

The first service in January saw only three in attendance, but the congregation now has tripled in size to nine.

Member Joan Philpott said she and her husband Ralph, now deceased, began the group Motorcyclists for Jesus. “It’s in 28 states from Vermont to California and in Florida,” she said. Philpott also belongs to the Joy Rider Team soon to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

New Hope Biker Church is embracing its new Henry County roots. Coming up on Sunday, November 2, the church is planning a “toy run” to benefit underprivileged children in Henry County. “We expect about 60 people riding,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins hopes that the uniqueness of the church will bring in church people who are looking for something different. “We mainly reach out to the biking community, but anyone is welcome,” he said.

He encouraged people to come to services in blue jeans, biker gear or whatever they feel comfortable wearing. Hawkins stressed that the New Hope Biker Church preaches a traditional Christian message.

“Anyone looking for a friendly, family-oriented church should come for a visit to New Hope Biker Church,” he said.

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