Youth bike initiative picks up speed

By Jessica Brodie

Across South Carolina, United Methodist youth are ramping up their collection of new and gently used bikes for the conference’s Annual Conference Bike Initiative.

The bike collection is a youth mission opportunity in conjunction with this year’s Annual Conference, set for Greenville June 4-7. Each district is collecting 100 bikes and $1,000, for a total of 1,200 bikes and $12,000. One thousand of the bikes will be sent to people in need across the globe through the nonprofit group Bikes for the World; the remainder will be given to those in need locally through the South Main Mercy Center in Anderson and the Triune Mercy Center in Greenville.

In preparation for the event, several districts have already scheduled bicycle collections:

  • Florence: March 12, Central UMC, Florence
  • Rock Hill: April 1, St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill, and April 8, Philadelphia UMC, Fort Mill
  • Charleston: May 6, Hibben UMC, Mount Pleasant
  • Columbia: May 21, Mill Creek UMC, Columbia

Val Kenney, youth worker at St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill, said the project has resonated with his youth because they understand how badly these bikes are needed.

“Our youth have every opportunity available to them to attend school and stay in school, but those in developing countries have to walk an average of six miles one way to school, which takes away time to sleep, time to study and time for family,” Kenney said. “By providing bicycles for these young students, they can get to school four times faster, which will enable them to stay in school, and will also help their parents get to and from work and help local pastors get around to their churches for worship service.”

Chris Lynch, youth ministries congregational specialist, said the project is also good because it helps youth get involved and help their peers.

“It gives the youth the chance to come together, work together, connect, accomplish something together and get young people involved in being the church,” Lynch said.

To date, more than $4,400 had been raised for the effort, $3,351 of that at the recent youth spiritual retreat, Revolution.

More district bike collections will be announced soon, or contact the district youth worker point person for more information: Anderson: Patrick Griffey (Trinity UMC, Anderson); Charleston: Cathy Musselwhite (Mount Hibben UMC); Columbia: Elizabeth Murray (Lexington UMC); Florence: Nate McMurphy (Central UMC, Florence); Greenville: John Fahrney (Buncombe Street UMC); Greenwood: Michael Keltz (Grace UMC, North Augusta); Hartsville: Sarah Horace (St. Mark UMC, Oswego); Marion: Jennifer Hupko (First UMC, Myrtle Beach); Orangeburg: Jimi Whitesell (St. John UMC, Aiken); Rock Hill: Val Kenney (St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill); Spartanburg: Skipper Brock (St. James UMC, Spartanburg); and Walterboro: Cheri Yates (Ruffin Circuit).

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