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UMMA's "Jesus Bus" Spreading the Good News from Oklahoma to Maryland!
The “Jesus bus” went to meet UMMA members on the way to and from Maryland. UMMA member Rod Fry and Pastor Sandi Phillips requested we speak at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Fredrick, Maryland on July 16, 2017. We then posted on FB the route planned. Several churches along the route asked us to stop by. We met many wonderful supportive folks on this journey through several states.
The first stop was in Barry, IL on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Eddie and Patty Gill met a wonderful group for dinner and Bible Study at the United Methodist Church in Barry, IL. We enjoyed some great food and an awesome group of people. They were very supportive of the UMMA vision. Mike Wheelan and Janet Main took us to breakfast Thursday morning. After breakfast Ben and Kris Harrison rode their bike from Mauston, WI (4 hrs) to meet us in Bloomington and buy us lunch. It was great seeing them again and catching up. Dinner was in Champagne, IL with a group of couples. Pastors Lisa and Bill Wiedman, Pastor Lenny and his wife Sandra Summar and of course Eddie and Patty Gill. We enjoyed local pizza and conversation. All left excited about UMMA and our new friendships. All will look for opportunities to serve through UMMA.
Our next stop was Logan, OH to meet the pastor of New Hope United Methodist Church, Emory Clark. His wife, Ruth, cooked an incredible spaghetti dinner on July 7,2017 when we arrived. The next morning, we rode our bikes to meet a group of riders lead by District Superintendent Dennis Miller. Within this group to our surprise were UMMA members Phil and Olga Thomas. It was great meeting them and putting a face with a name. The group of us rode to Hillbilly Hotdogs somewhere along the beautiful scenic motorcycle ride in West Virginia.
On July 10, 2017, we made it to Maryland. On July 12,2017, member Rod Fry took us to lunch and let us know what he had planned for our visit. We stopped to get gas and met Duane Johnson, who wanted Rod and Eddie to bless his bike. They blessed his bike and invited him to Sunday service at Wesley United Methodist Church in Fredrick, MD to hear our testimony, get more information about UMMA, and go on the ride following service and lunch.
On July 13,2017, we followed Rod in the bus for the Thurmont Fireman Festival and parade. We got a very warm response from all who attended. It was an honor and touching to see the overwhelming response to the “Jesus bus”.
On Saturday morning in Gaithersburg, MD, we gave our testimony and answered questions about UMMA at Grace United Methodist Church breakfast. The group at breakfast was very receptive and encouraged us with their support. We blessed bikes afterwards and headed out for our bus escort ride to the Strawbridge Shrine, Gettysburg, PA, battlefield, and Fairview Chapel evening service. It was all so informative and a fun ride with an excellent group. We met and took pictures with the 7th generation, grandson, John Strawbridge. We also got pictures of all of us in front of the bus with the Strawbridge Shrine in the background.
On Sunday July, 16, 2017 We led the service at Wesley Chapel UMC in Fredrick, MD. To our surprise Duane Johnson that we met getting gas came to join us at service. We were all thrilled that he made it. We gave our testimony, UMMA presentation, and answered questions. Eddie shared the story of meeting Dewayne getting gas, blessing his bike, and inviting him to service. The church was extremely supportive and really appreciated our coming. We blessed a few more bikes before our afternoon ride to several different churches ending at Fairview Chapel UMC with more fellowship and music. While stopping by Antietam battlefield, Pastor Sandi led us in Amazing Grace at the small chapel. Duane said he was having a wonderful time and thanked Eddie and Rod for the invite. Dewayne said that he had never been invited to anything like this and was happy we included him. We continued with fellowship over a Maryland crab dinner.
On Monday July 17, 2017, we went to Lovely Lane UMC and museum in Baltimore, MD with Rod and pastor Sandy. We learned a lot about the history of the United Methodist and their Circuit Riders. Sandy and a group from her church took us out to dinner at Atlantic Grill. The food and company was delightful.
On Tuesday July 18, 2017, we rode in the car to see have lunch and see some of the sights in Washington D. C. with Rod and Sandy.
On Wednesday July 19, 2017, we fixed lunch on the grill at the campground for Sandy. It was an inspiring visit and all of us left excited about the future of UMMA and the new friendships we made. Carol Bowen invited us to a Faith Point UMC video service and dinner. We got all the information we need to tune in from Oklahoma.
On Thursday July 20,2017, we went to Gettysburg, PA with Rod Fry and returned to our campsite to get our damaged trailer hitch fixed for our trip home.
On Friday July 21, 2017, it was time to load up and leave all our new friends. We packed up from our campsite and made our rounds saying our tearful goodbyes. We were off to one last stop in Selma, VA. Pastor Nathan Caldwell had invited us to speak in his church on Sunday. We visited in the bus for a couple of hours with Nathan and his wife Shawna. Nathan lead the bus to a remarkable campground and paid for our 2-night stay.
On Saturday July 22,2017, Nathan took us on a beautiful ride in the Virginia mountains with streams and waterfalls. We cooked for the Caldwell family at the campground and witnessed to other campers responding to the “Jesus bus”. It always amazing to us the people God brings in our path at every campground.
On Sunday July 23,2017 Eddie and Patty led the service and gave their testimony. We also promoted and answered questions about UMMA. Many were touched and decided they would be better about asking others to attend church in the future. After church, we headed out for our long drive home.
Maryland Steeple Chase
Pastor Rod Fry
Hello from Frederick MD. We did hold a first annual "Steeple Chase" ride sponsored by the Maryland branch of the United Methodist Motorcycle Association (UMMA) back in July. We hope to make it an annual event.. Let me first tell you about the UMMA. Eddie and Patty Gill started the organization in 2012 when Eddie received a direction from God to put the image of Jesus on the front of his motorcycle and form the UMMA with a mission of riding 1 million miles for Christ. The vision of UMMA is to take the church outside of it's 4 walls and reach people out in the community right where they are.
A great example of that occured in July when Eddie and Patty visited us from Oklahoma. They travel in a 40 foot "Jesus" bus (a huge image of Jesus on the side). I met them on the motorcycle and they needed to gas up so we stopped in the WaWa in Frederick MD. While he was gassing up, a gentleman, named Dwayne, noticed and came over to us and asked us what we were doing. We told him about the ministry and then prayed with him right there in the middle of the gas station by the pumps. Eddie and I then invited him to attend church with us at Wesley Chapel that Sunday and ride with us in our Steeple Chase ride.
The service started and there was no Dwayne but about 15 minutes into the service he walked in. Eddie and I looked at each other and tears ran down our cheeks. Dwayne participated in our ride with us and when it was over, he told us that he enjoyed hanging out with us and that no one had ever invited him to take part in anything like this. Eddie and I keep in touch with Dwayne and he intends to continue to ride with us. He in essence did not come to the "church", but the "church" went out to him and met him where he is in life.
Regarding the "Steeple Chase", Eddie and Patty Gill drove their "Jesus Bus' with their motorcycle in tow, all the way from Oklahoma to visit us and participate in the ride. The event actually started the day before at Grace UMC in Gaithersburg. There, the United Methodist Methodist Men and Women under the direction of Gary Baumgarten, also a member of UMMA, provided a breakfast for Eddie and Patty. There were about 40 people in attendance and Eddie and Patty gave their testimony. Following, we blessed several motorcycles in the parking lot and then took a ride to the Strawbridge Shrine. The UMMA considers themselves to be modern day circuit riders traveling by iron horse (motorcycles). The shrine is the place where the very first Methodist Ciruit Rider, Robert Strawbridge lived who traveled by horseback.
The "Steeple Chase" began first at Faith Point UMC in Urbana. There we learned about their unique online worship service and how they reach out to the community via media. The next stop was Wesley Chapel UMC where Eddie and Patty delivered the message during the worship service telling about their journey and testimony about the UMMA. A luncheon followed and then the ride began. The first stop was Rocky Point Creamery for ice cream. Being "Good United Methodist", we understand the importance of fellowshipping by eating. From there we went to Good Hope UMC in Brunswick. There, we heard about their ministry to several motorcycle organizations that are a part of that congregation.
The next stop was Camp Manidokan which is a UM camp on the Potomac River across from Harpers Ferry. We then ventured to the Antietam Battlefield and met at the Dunker Church, which was a focal point of the battle. As we were sitting in there just taking in the moment, we all broke into the hymn, "It is Well" and "Amazing Grace". We then traveled back to Frederick and fellowshipped with dinner at May's Seafood Restaurant so that Eddie and Patty could sample good ole Maryland crabs. Our final stop was at Fairview Chapel, which is an old Methodist chapel that does not have water or electricity. Various local pastors volunteer to hold a service each Sunday evening at 7 pm and we attended that Sunday's Service.
In attendance for the ride were 23 individuals who traveled on 7 motorcycles and 4 automobiles. In addition to Eddie and Patty who are from the Council Oak District of the Oklahoma Conference, we had riders participants from 6 United Methodist Churches across 3 districts. From the Frederick District we had people from Trinity UMC; from the Central Maryland District, Wesley Chapel, Faith Point, Montgomery, and Grace UMC were represented; and from the Greater Washington District, we had Rockville UMC. UMMA is truely a connectional ministry in that many churches come together to work togetherThere were also some participants that were not United Methodists and some that were members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
There are approximately 180 members of the UMMA spread across 18 states. There are 6 "patch" members in Maryland with many more participants. We meet monthly to plan ministry opportunities. Some of the things we have done in the past year in addition to the Steeple Chase were participating in several secular charity motorcycle rides; a Blessing of the Wheels at Wesley Chapel with Faith Point UMC; providing and preparing meals for the homeless at Centennial UMC; providing Easter baskets to homeless youth in conjunction with the Urbana Food Bank; providing toys for the same; and street ministry booth at Fredericks In the Street celebration.
If you would like to know more about what we do or would like to be informed of our events, please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org