Blessing of the Bikes in the downtown square
Last year, the city of Neosho asked that the annual Blessing of the Bikes not take place due to COVID.
This year, the event returned to Neosho’s historic downtown square where riders of motorcycles are blessed by a priest for safety in the upcoming summer riding season.
Paul Richardson, organizer of the event with the Sanctified Tribe Motorcycle Ministry (STMM), has been in motorcycle ministry for 23 years and started the event in Neosho.
“It’s a traditional thing among bikers to have a blessing at the beginning of the season,” said Richardson. “I’ve got stickers, we go around and talk to people on an individual basis and pass out stickers that say, ‘this bike is blessed by so and so,’”
The Blessing of thee Bikes also acts as a fundraiser with a 50/50 prize pot. Motorcycle ministry combines the passions of religion and biking and the STMM works with local and state prisons as well as local groups and organizations such as the Adult and Teen Challenge of the 4 States in Neosho.
“I’ve been in this a long time. The guys that do (prison ministry), I’ve watched them,” said Richardson. “They were always having to pay their own way for food fuel and lodging. When we set ip this fund, when the guys that are doing that ministry, we pay for their fuel and lodging.”
Adult and Teen Challenge of the 4 States provides a faith based residential care program for young people and adults who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.
The funds raised go directly to prison ministry in the area like Adult and Teen Challenge of the 4 States, last year STMM donated funds for a new van and this year funds have increased donated to Adult and Teen Challenge of the 4 States with many of the prisons closed to visitors.
With last year’s event being canceled, Richardson told the Neosho Daily News this year would be the eighth blessing of the bikes, and eleventh year overall, after being rained out one year and floods canceling another.
Hundreds of bikers from the four states area descended upon Neosho’s historic downtown square from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Apr. 25, with live music, vendors, visiting and fellowship.
Normally, there are more activities throughout the day, but Richardson said he didn’t plan as many this year because he didn’t know what the outcome would be with COVID and if the event might have to get canceled again.
The blessing took place near the end of the event and was given by Pastor Steve Gilmore of First Lutheran Church in Neosho.
“All loving and eternal lord, grant your people grace to draw near to God. Oh God, you have made us in your image to create new things. Roads we have and the vehicles we use come to us from your vast creation. Today we gather to ask your blessing upon these, your servants and their bikes. We ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Before closing the ceremony, Gilmore asked for a moment of silence for all those who had been injured or lost their lives while riding.