Local motorcyclists defy stereotype

Terry West and Pastor Kevin Ratliff of The Foothills Church

Movies, television shows and literature have ingrained an image
of violent outlaw motorcyclists who break the law and terrorize
innocent bystanders. Perhaps, however, we are all too quick to
accept this stereotype.
Movies, television shows and literature have ingrained an image of violent outlaw motorcyclists who break the law and terrorize innocent bystanders. Perhaps, however, we are all too quick to accept this stereotype.

In fact, there are many Christian motorcycle groups made up of ordinary people who simply enjoy the thrill and freedom of riding bikes on the open road. A local example is the chapter of Fellowship Riders sponsored by Gilroy’s Foothills Church, 8335 Church St.

This motorcycle ministry, which began in March of 2009, has invited South County riders of all faiths to join them in monthly excursions. Recent trips have included destinations like Monterey, Carmel Valley and Yosemite National Park. A ride to Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery in Moss Landing is scheduled for Aug. 29.

Generally these events are only a single day outing with a lunch stop at a restaurant at the destination. Longer rides, however, include overnight stays. In May, for example, the group rented all the cabins at the KOA Campground during its trip to Yosemite.

The emphasis of Fellowship Riders is on safe riding and fun fellowship. Although 70 percent of current participants are members of the congregation, anyone is welcome to come along. There is no pressure to join the church, and people from other local churches often participate. Men and women riders are equally welcome.

Terry West, one of the founders of the Gilroy chapter, is the West Coast regional director of Fellowship Riders, a national organization headquartered in Texas. He points out that no dues are charged for membership and only a one-time modest fee is charged for a start-up kit to help a church begin a new chapter.

Kevin Ratiff, a pastor at Foothills Church, takes pride in the fact that the group is welcomed back wherever they go.

“No religious preaching is necessary,” he said. “We allow the Lord to shine through us. Our lives are examples of Christ within us.”

Fellowship Riders took part last year in the Angel Tree Project of Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship. They collected Christmas gifts for 24 children and delivered the presents on their bikes (with Ratiff and Paul Conti dressed as Santa). Their goal is to increase the number of children served this year to 100.

Fellowship Riders is just one of the many ministries sponsored by Foothills Church. Among the others are”

– Laundry Love Project, which distributes detergent and quarters once a month at a local laundromat.

– Hunters for Christ, which combines “fun, food and shooting” on a regular basis.

– A Trash Can Can Make a Difference, which collects from members a different item of food or clothing each month for the Salvation Army or St. Joseph’s Family Center, benefiting the poor locally, a modern embodiment of the Biblical principle of “gleaning.”

Foothills Church holds Sunday worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School classes for children of all ages offered simultaneously. There are separate programs for adults, children and youth through high school age at 7 p.m. Wednesday evenings.

The church also has a ladies Bible study on Tuesday mornings and evenings. And for young adults, the church has a program called “the Gathering,” a modern worship services and meal on the first Friday of each month.

For more information, call (408) 848-3100 or go to www.thefoothillschurch.com.

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