Preaches On 'Biker Sunday'
Area Baptist church welcomes 25 visitors in leather
Published in The Huntsville Times on 06/02/03
By KEITH CLINES
Times Staff Writer email@example.com
Dress codes for Sunday church in the South have changed over the years, but it's still unusual to see a preacher deliver a sermon in leather
Once you got past his attire, the Rev. Sammy Gilbreath (Class of '66)
delivered a typical Baptist sermon Sunday to the faithful at Jackson Way Baptist Church. Gilbreath wasn't the only person in the sanctuary dressed in leather. More than 25 bikers, many dressed in blue jeans and leather vests, parked their motorcycles and joined the coat-and-tie crowd at the church's first Biker Sunday.
Before taking the pulpit, Gilbreath was in the office of the Rev. Garry
Jordan, the church's senior pastor, explaining his work in "intentional
evangelism." Anything people are passionate about - be it gardening,
fishing, hunting, sewing or motorcycle riding - can be used to spread the
gospel, he said. This day it happened to be motorcycling, and Gilbreath
was dressed in black from head to toe - black boots, jeans with black
leather chaps, black belt, black T-shirt, black leather vest, black leather
gloves with studs and with the fingers cut out, and a black leather do-rag.
Gilbreath said he preaches somewhere every Sunday, and about a dozen
times a year he's dressed in the biker's leathers.
What kind of reaction does he get from the congregation?
"This preacher did it right," Gilbreath said of Jordan. "He had me in a few
weeks ago in a three-piece suit. They would be very skeptical if I walked
in the first time dressed like this."
Barbara Wright confirmed Gilbreath's comments after the service. She
said his attire was fine with her, and that she had heard him preach when
he wore the suit.
"I think he certainly stirred up our congregation," Wright said.
Sunday was something of a homecoming for Gilbreath, who lives in
Montgomery and is the director of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist
Convention. He attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated from
Lee High School. Gilbreath is also the former associate pastor of First
Baptist Church in Huntsville.
Biker Sunday at Jackson Way was arranged by church members Danny
and Jeanne Hill (Jeanne Clutts Hill, Class of '66). Jeanne Hill is the church's organist. The Hills, who own a Harley Davidson, are members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. The Huntsville chapter of the association is named the Forgiven Riders.
Bruce Bice, president of the local chapter, said the bikers have not had
any problems with church members at churches in Birmingham, Florence, Tuscumbia and other places, though sometimes church-goers will be taken aback when they see people in riding garb coming to church.
"Everywhere we've been for Biker Sunday, we've been welcomed with open arms," Bice said in the parking lot before Sunday's service.
Bice said the group sponsors an annual Run for the Son bike rally with 60 percent of the money raised going to international missions and 40
percent used to minister to motorcyclists.
After the service, many of the Jackson Way Baptist Church members
milled around admiring the expensive motorcycles in the parking lot.
Nearby, the bikers stood in a circle for a blessing of the bikes in which
they prayed for safety while riding.