ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 30, 2009
Three ELCA Pastors Embark on Bamboo Bicycle Trek to Help End Hunger
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Three 60-year-old best friends are on a "mission from God." They plan to stop at 65 cities, covering 13,000 miles in 100 days -- all on a bamboo bicycle built for three. Their mission is to help bring an end to world hunger.
The friends will begin their journey with a special blessing here May 13 at the Lutheran Center.
"We are just three guys who like to ride bikes, being used by God for a wonderful purpose," said the Rev. Reinold "Ron" Schlak Jr., a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Schlak's two friends are also pastors of the ELCA -- the Rev. Frederick "Fred" A. Soltow Jr. and the Rev. David A. Twedt. All three serve ELCA congregations in West Virginia.
"Cycling is the most advanced transportation a lot of hungry people can afford," Schlak said. "Whether it is a modern American city or a small village in Africa, many people ride bikes because they cannot afford a vehicle with a motor."
Schlak said they chose a bamboo bicycle "because people in Ghana are lifting themselves out of poverty by harvesting locally-grown bamboo and forming it into bicycle frames and attaching the necessary bike parts."
The triplet bamboo bicycle designed for the pastors is the first of its kind.
Calling their journey the "Tour de Revs," the pastors' mission and goal is threefold -- "revelation, revolution and revenue."
Regarding revelation, "We want to support the church in communicating our God-given opportunity and responsibility to provide for those less fortunate, so that all may have adequate nutrition to sustain life and wholeness," said Schlak.
The bicycle journey will also stress the need for Lutherans to take personal responsibility for health and wellness, he said.
"Pastors live with stress," Schlak said. "Stress in parishioners' lives, stress in the congregation and (personal) stress. Other than prayer, and maybe meditation, many pastors do not deal with stress very well. We worry. We overeat. We retreat from life. Or we do worse things. The Tour de Revs hopes to give pastors a positive role model. We hope our ride reminds pastors of the physical and mental enjoyment exercise, especially biking, can bring."
The second goal is revolution -- to stimulate the ELCA's 65 synods and 10,448 congregations to formulate and implement realistic plans to eradicate hunger, and to make wellness a higher priority in the church.
The pastors hope to raise $5 million for the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.
"I would like to raise $1 for each pedal stroke of our journey," Soltow said. "I estimate that to be 5 million pedal strokes."
"We will be encouraging people to make giving to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal a regular part of their stewardship, not just contributing when a special offering is collected," said Twedt. "Beyond that, I would hope and expect that this church will continue to increase its support of those who, through no fault of their own, cannot support themselves. Jesus is saying that to me in Matthew 25. I believe (Jesus) is saying that, not only to the entirety of the ELCA, but to all Christians everywhere."
Tour de Revs is allowing me "to fulfill my call, which is proclaiming the message of Jesus as witnessed in Scripture," Soltow said. "We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and work for justice and righteousness."
"Let us always remember that this event is a thankoffering for the grace we have first experienced as we attempt to live out Christ's command to love God and neighbor as self," Schlak said.
The pastors will make a special stop at the ELCA Youth Gathering -- an event that brings together 37,000 high-school-age and adult Lutherans -- July 22-26 in New Orleans, and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 17-23 in Minneapolis. The assembly is the highest legislative authority of the church. Other stops include San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Anchorage, Alaska.
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Information about Tour de Revs is at http://www.tourderevs.org on the Web. The site includes an interactive map of the tour, information about the technology of the bamboo bicycle and more.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog