By Joel Hall
When one enters the Redeemed Biker Church in Lovejoy, it is easy to tell it's a different kind of church.
The sounds of "Victory in Jesus" meet the smell of leather and exhaust fumes, and everyone is invited to come as they are.
Nearly two months ago, Brick Mason, a licensed minister and avid motorcycle rider, started Redeemed Biker Church out of the Lovejoy Community Center on Hastings Bridge Road. Since May, the church has met on Thursday nights, growing from just a few members to a congregation of 60 members.
Mason said the concept of the "biker church" is not entirely new, and follows the trend of "cowboy churches," which in recent years have sprung up at rodeo venues across the country. He said the idea is to attract those with similar passions who may be deterred by a traditional church atmosphere.
"[Biker churches] started about four years ago," Mason said. "Cowboys, they would meet in rodeo stadiums across the country [to worship]. The biker churches followed suit, I guess. We felt like there was such a need for it in this community.
"We have a whole new generation of people who didn't go to church, so the traditional church doesn't fit their lifestyle," he continued. "We believe in going outside of what is normal to bring people to Christ. This is a relaxed atmosphere where they can share fellowship and their spiritual beliefs."
Each two-hour service begins with a casual pot-luck dinner followed by weekly testimony from a biker who has given his or her life over to Christ. The service also features time for praise and worship, as well as Bible study.
David Williams, a Griffin resident, said he comes from a family of motorcycle riders. Sporting jeans and a leather biker jacket dotted with dozens of decorative pins, Williams said he was discouraged from attending several churches before coming to Redeemed Biker Church.
"A lot of people have problems with bikers because of what they see on TV," he said. "They think we're all rapists, drug dealers and gang members. If I walked into a regular church, I would probably be stared down. Here, we're accepted for who we are."
Derinda Walker, a registered nurse and medical missionary from Griffin, rides a 1,200-cc Harley-Davidson motorcycle. She said the church has been able to use motorcycles as a way to bring people to Jesus' teachings.
"I met a man ... he was dying of cancer," Walker said. "He was a proclaimed atheist for 35 years. Before he died ... his wife said he changed. He used to cuss, but he didn't do it anymore. He would have never allowed me to minister to him if it wasn't for the fact that we both love motorcycles.
"God can use people of all different backgrounds to do his work," she said.
Mason said that while the church is still small, it is attracting riders from around the Southern Crescent, and some visitors from out of state. He said he believes the church has given many people in the community a spiritual home.
"We feel like we have really found a home in the community," Mason said. "When I talk to people who don't go to church anymore ... it's usually because they felt rejected. When you walk through those doors, you are accepted."
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