A bagpiper stood outside welcoming the world into St Stephen’s Episcopal Parish at SW 13th and Clay last night for the dedication of the church’s new bicycle shrine. Inside, Halley Weaver played the harp; her bike and the custom trailer she uses to haul the instrument was parked in the back of the sanctuary.
Attendees were invited to roll their steeds up the ramp to the church door and park them amongst the pews.
The Parish priest, Reverend Dennis Parker, was wearing his preferred cycling gear — a leather jacket over his vestments. “We are pretty sure this is the first bicycle shrine in the nation,” he said. “We googled several variations of ‘bike church,'” he said, “but the things we found were all more like bike shops.”
Everyone in attendance (including a sizable media presence) settled down and Rev. Parker made a brief speech to dedicate of the shrine, saying some nice words about everyone striving to be good to each other on the road.
The shrine itself is basic — a painting of a bicycle, some candles and flowers. The hope, Deacon Ken Arnold told me, is that people will bring flowers and add meaningful mementos. They’d like to have a bicycle there permanently.
The organist and harpist began to play and the congregation began a short chant. Flanked by two other clergy in vestments and yellow rain jackets, Rev. Parker walked through the sanctuary, stooping to daub holy oil on the chain of each bike and to say a short prayer: “Bless this bike for safety, health, enjoyment, and celebration.”
The shrine will be open during daytime hours for anyone of any faith who would like to stop and spend some time there. And you can feel free to bring your bicycle in.
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com