[Editor’s note: Please welcome news intern Halley Weaver! Halley comes to BikePortland from a background in blogging. She jumped head first into the Portland bike scene as lead designer for the 2009 Pedalpalooza Kickoff Party. Her first story for us is a feature on a burgeoning new bike organization in town, the Bike Temple.]
Oregon isn’t known for spiritual piety (we have the fourth largest percentage of people identifying themselves as “non-religious” in the United States), but here in Portland, a new organization is taking an earnest yet irreverent approach to a new kind of cycle-spirituality: It’s called the Bike Temple.
Why the combination of bicycles and religion? According to the Bike Temple’s pamphlet, which can often be spotted in spokes and on handlebars around town, “Bicycles give us happiness, good health, a closer communication to our communities, lower consumption, self-appreciation, and most of all, fun!”
“I’ve always believed in bicycles the way other people believe in deities. You can be saved by your bike. Bicycles keep everyone from driving cars. It’s evangelical, theological, practical.”
— Pasture Ted
The founders of The Bike Temple (who asked to be identified by their self-appointed religious titles), discussed during a business meeting last week how they came to be. It began with a conversation between “Kernal Loose Nut” Moses and “Pasture” Ted during the Pedalpalooza bike festival in 2008. Ted had helped in the birth of the Bike Church (now the Davis Bike Collective) in Davis, California in 2004 and wanted to create a similar community here in Portland.
Ted explains, “I’ve always believed in bicycles the way other people believe in deities. You can be saved by your bike. Bicycles keep everyone from driving cars. It’s evangelical, theological, practical.” He adds, “We’re not trying to push an agenda. We’re trying to express what we see as a collective civic belief of the population, expressed through their behavior.”
Portland’s behavior sent a clear message to the Bike Temple founders. With our multitude of themed group rides and festivals honoring two-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicles, the answer seemed obvious: “this is something the community has been asking for.”
“Deacon” Amos has a passion for bicycles and religion. “If they’re the same,” he says, “it just makes for a more efficient service.” He explains the Bike Temple’s long-term goal of having a permanent space to grow and build their ministry. They envision a “bike club house” with a shop where people can work on their “venerated mode of transportation,” where kids can grow up together in a supportive environment, and the community can build closer together.
Currently, Bike Temple founders are in the works of finalizing their plans to move into the basement of the Lotus Seed Ashram in NE Portland, where they will offer a small bike shop and space to congregate and having meetings.
You can also spot the Bike Temple’s “Mobile Shrine” out at events. This human-powered bicycle sculpture is a homage not only to different faiths, but different Portland bicycling groups. The towering dome features a decommissioned Sprockettes frame, ZooBomb frames, cruisers, BMX, and touring bikes just to name a few.
Already have a spiritual path? That’s great, Amos says. The Bike Temple doesn’t aim to provide a replacement faith, but “wants you to explore and believe in the religion of your choice.” They strongly support exploration and education about a variety of faiths, such as during their Joy of Sects ride during Pedalpalooza 2009 when they visited a variety of religious institutions (see BikePortland’s ride report here). A sequel is in the works: The Joy of Sects II, Deluxe Edition, on August 2nd, will visit five churches and attend a religious service.
The Bike Temple aims to show their commitment to community-building practices through their involvement with events such as this weekend’s Northeast Sunday Parkways, where they will be blessing bicycles, lubing chains and fellowshipping in the intersection of NE 17th and Going Street.
The majority of their ministry work is currently done through BikeTemple.org, where you can find information about upcoming events, theological discussions, community outreach projects, and bicycle poetry.
Check out our past coverage of the intersection of bikes and religion:
– Deacon Amos’s touching eulogy at the Michael Jackson memorial ride and dance party last month is definitely worth a read.
– St Mary’s, a Catholic church in Northwest Portland, holds an annual Blessing of the Bikes.
– We’ve done a couple of stories on Hinson Baptist Church in Southeast Portland, which encourages congregants to bike to church and partners with the Community Cycling Center to host an annual free bike tune-up day.