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Biker Church starts faith-based initiative community service program

(c) 2009 NPT PHOTO BY KATHY HEMSWORTH Hard Core Disciples of Jesus Christ, also known as the Biker Church, has developed a faith-based community initiative program. Preacher Ray Slater, at left, is shown with Mickey Perryman, a patch holder, at right.
Published: 9:03 PM, 05/19/2009

Author: Kathy Hemsworth
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT--Hard Core Disciples of Jesus Christ, also known as the Biker Church, has started a variety of activities and projects to help the community.
"We are wanting to become more community oriented," said Preacher Ray Slater. "We want to thank Cocke County for the wonderful support we have received--it has been overwhelming. We are looking for our positive relationship with the community to continue."
The church has started a faith-based initiative community service program, which will include family housing and a food and clothing ministry, as well as assistance in job searches, applying for college and completing financial aid applications.
"We have several volunteers willing to help us with our efforts," he explained. "We are looking for a Christian who is a CPA (certified public accountant) willing to donate their time to help us teach budgeting and financial planning."
By offering low-income housing, Slater said they hope to teach those facing financial challenges about budgeting and finances. He explained the housing is temporary, with people being permitted to stay there from three months to six months.
"The housing is very affordable. Tenants pay a minimal amount of rent, but then are responsible for all of their utilities," he explained.
He said tenants will open a checking account and 80-percent of their income will be deposited into a checking account where it will stay until the family is ready to move out of the housing and head out onto their own.
"The checking account will require two signatures. Its purpose is to help the family build up some money so they can move out and start over," Slater explained. "We want them to have a new start on life."
The church's housing is for family units including a husband, wife, and children, he said. He explained a Christian family owns the building the church will be using for housing, and has made the building available for this purpose. Slater emphasized the housing is temporary, with tenants initially moving in for three months, but an additional three months may be permitted if necessary. The apartments are furnished, so there will be limited expense for the family, he noted.
Every Wednesday, from noon to 3 p.m., people who need clothing and food may visit the church for the weekly food and clothing giveaway.
Eddie Yelton is serving as the church's community service director. He will help people with job searches, updating resumes, and applying for college and financial assistance. He is at the church, off West Broadway, from 12 noon until 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. He is available at other times by appointment, which can be arranged by calling Preacher Ray.
A variety of activities are planned. On Saturday, May 30, the church will team with Sandra's Bar to host a block party. Admission will be $10 per person. It will include a bike show, a variety of music ranging from bluegrass to southern rock, and a performance by the praise team. Hot dog and hamburger plates will be available for a donation.
Every Saturday morning all motorcyclists are welcome to gather at the church at 10 a.m. for a group ride. Regular church services are held every Sunday morning with children's church at 10 followed by praise and worship at 11. Youth meet from 4 to 6 p.m. every Sunday.
Biker church is held Monday at 7 p.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bible study/singles-divorced class is held. Every Saturday is open mic night at 7 p.m.
"By reaching out to the community, we want people to know how Jesus Christ can change lives," Slater explained. "We are faith-based, and our mission is all about Jesus and winning souls. Jesus loves everybody, regardless of who you are or what you have done."
Mickey Perryman, a patch holder at the church, said he has spent 17 of the last 21 years in jail.
"It was all because of drugs and alcohol and running from the Lord," Perryman said. "When I decided to open my heart to Christ, He restored my marriage. I renewed a relationship with my 18-year-old son and my father. My wife and I have a baby due in July."
"I have found peace. He has provided for my needs. My wife and I bought a house and I have a good job because He is providing for us. Because of my relationship with Christ, my life has completely turned around," he said.
He said his father, Ralph, is also a patch holder at the church.
"Jesus died for me on that cross, so the least I can do is live for Him. I'll do what He asks me to do. I encourage everyone to open their hearts and let Him in," Perryman said. "This church has been a blessing to me, and it has helped me realize that without Jesus Christ there is no peace or no joy."
Perryman said he completed a rehabilitation program at New Hope Restoration House in Sevierville, where he spent six months as an inpatient and three months as an outpatient. He is now a counselor with the Christ-centered organization, which has a 73-percent success rate.
"We do have access to the rehabilitation services there for those who need them," he explained.
Slater said the congregation of the church is comprised from a wide of variety of backgrounds. He said patch holders include retired law enforcement and business owners, and members of all ages. Not all church attendees own motorcycles, he pointed out.
"We aren't here to judge anyone. We are here to tell about Christ's love and mercy. Everyone is welcome," said Slater. "That is the way it should be, we should all love and support one another."
For more information about the church or its programs, call Preacher Ray at (865) 237-2139.

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