In just one year, Surrey's Freedom Biker Church has taken off at full throttle.
The congregation, which began with just 10 members, has grown to 140 people attending Sunday services at Davidson's Pitt Stop restaurant on Fraser Highway.
And thankfully, says Pastor Chuck Pearce, they don't all show up on the same Sunday. The church's congregation is quickly outgrowing the space.
"I don't believe any of us had any great expectations other than, let's do this and let's just remember that whatever we do, it has got to be God honouring - so let's have fun," said Pearce. And he admits he is blown away by the results.
The idea of a biker church in Surrey took root after Pearce decided it was time to change his life. He, and a group of nine bikers, began researching Freedom Biker Church, founded in 2006 in North Carolina.
Pearce's goal was to connect with bikers and people who feel uncomfortable in a traditional church. He also wanted to prove that bikers are not the bad people they are made out to be.
One year later, the Surrey branch of the church has welcomed biker of all types.
"The mom-and-pops who ride the Gold Wings, they come and hang out at our booths," said Pearce. "The average guys, the young kids on the crotch rockets, they come around. Some of the bad guys come around, too. Literally, we have befriended everybody in our first year."
Their mission has never been to convert anyone, though.
"We don't go and beat anybody over the head with religion or the Bible, we basically want to bring them into a family," said Pearce.
Much of their work has become about helping others.
Pearce, and people involved with the church, work with addiction recovery houses in Surrey and gather donations for people in need.
On Dec. 19 and 20, they gathered 480 boxes of donated food that they will distribute to recovery organizations.
"Working with this group (the biker church) has been extremely eye-opening to the fact that it is not just us in the recovery field that are trying to change people's lives," said Kai Sjoholm of Awakenings Recovery House.
After a successful first year, Pearce has some exciting plans for 2012. They have their eye on a new, larger building that will allow his group to expand. He hopes to run more events and create a place where bikers can feel welcome without the negative stereotypes. "Basically it will be like a biker bar environment but without the booze, the drugs or the fights," he said.
On New Year's Day, Pearce will be conducting a biker baptism for several people involved with the church - and he admits it will be a little different.
"I don't know what a typical baptism is, but it will be bikered up," he said.
Participants will be baptized to the sound of revving bikes.
Next summer, the group also has plans for an eight-day ride throughout B.C. and parts of Alberta to raise awareness about addiction recovery and the Nightshift Street Ministries in Whalley.
The group is online at www. freedombcsurrey.com.
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