Pastor Bo Ireland (wearing vest) leads in blessing a vehicle at Wayne UMC’s Third Annual Blessing of the Wheels.
by chris schutz
Wheels are a good way to get people to church — and not just car wheels, the pastor of Wayne United Methodist Church has learned.
For the third year, Bo Ireland and his congregation invited people to come to the century-old country church to have their wheels blessed — any kind of wheels.
The April 16 ceremony was similar to blessing services for motorcycles, said Rev. Ireland, a biker himself.
Ireland was "looking for different outreach events" to promote the church in the Wayne community. He went online to research blessings that are used for motorcycles and adapted them for other vehicles.
"I wanted to make it very inclusive. Anything with wheels could come," said the pastor, who is halfway through a four-year degree program at Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.
A variety of vehicles have been presented for him to bless. Among the more unusual: wheelchairs, roller skates, a lawn mower, and an excavator that was being used to tear down a building next door.
Wayne UMC has gained some new members who brought their wheels to be blessed and then came back to church.
"It’s a big draw for people, a good way to invite people into the presence of God," Ireland said.
Someone brought a small scooter for special attention one year. Ireland quoted its owner, "This one needs to be blessed. It hurts lots of people."
Outside at this year’s program, people circled up and joined hands as the pastor prayed over an Indian motorcycle owned by Russ Tresner of Norman. Ireland prayed for "safety and protection. Stay on the straight and narrow, and stay out of the ditches."
Also in biker tradition, he handed out custom patches commemorating the Wayne United Methodist Church Third Annual Blessing of the Wheels. The patch depicts a rider kneeling at a cross beside his parked motorcycle.
Wayne UMC made the event bigger with music performed by Once-Lost Minstrels of Norman, door prizes, and a chili lunch.
People have attended from other United Methodist churches in the area, Ireland said, including Trinity UMC at Purcell, Lexington, and Maysville.
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