TAVARES, FL (July 3, 2013) – After the band had played selections from rock groups such as the Moody Blues and the Animals, Jim “Alpha Dog” Pugh of the JC Road Dogs invited everyone to circle around for the blessing of the motorcycles.
The music and blessings were part of Bridges Covenant Church’s unusual outreach to the motorcycle community.
Such events are normative for the aptly named congregation, which has made motorbikers a primary focus of its ministry.
The JC Road Dogs are a Christian motorcycle group, many of whose members attend the church. The group meets at the church the first Thursday of every month.
“Having members of the Road Dogs as members of the church helps visitors understand that we are totally a ‘come-as-you-are’ church seeking authenticity rather than perfection,” says Pastor Eric Filkin.
This was the second year for the barbecue, Filkin says. The Road Dogs were founded after last year’s event. This year, more than 200 people showed up.
Approximately one-third of the bikers are part of the Road Dogs, and many do not attend any congregation. “They come to this and see how authentic we are,” Filkin says.
The ministry has seen bikers with hardened attitudes toward church come to Christ and grow in their faith because of the congregation’s commitment to being a welcoming church, says Filkin.
Filkin arrived at the church in November to serve as pastor. “As a former suburban Chicago lawyer, I never thought I’d lead a biker church, but I’m thankful I do,” he says.
Filkin doesn’t have a motorcycle. “But I have a convertible and go with them on their rides,” says Filkin laughing.
“We say you don’t have to have a motorcycle to be a member of the Road Dogs,” Filkin says.