Biker Blessing Ends With Brawl
A successful community outreach event at First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens ended with a fracas.
The Sixth Annual Biker Blessing, an intended peaceful rally to reinforce unity between the many motorcycle clubs of New Jersey and the community of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Franklin Township, ended abruptly after two fights broke out around 4:45 p.m. Sunday.
According to Chandra Hayslett, director of communications and marketing for the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, located in on Somerset Street, police had to subdue two feuding bikers from different clubs, as well as break up a fight that started between a stunt biker and another man in attendance.
The stunt biker had knocked a young boy down who was on the track, and the boy’s mother brought another man over to confront the biker, she said.
The biker received treatment at the scene and went home, according to Hayslett. No further information is available at this time about the other man.
“Collaboration between the First Baptist Church and police was swift and effective,” Hayslett said, “They ended the event 20 minutes early, and told everyone to go home.”
The Biker Blessing is an event that commemorates the motorcycle clubs (MCs) in the area who promote youth and community outreach in urban areas by teaching young people the fun of biking, and the importance of joining positive clubs.
Rev. Dr. DeForest Blake “Buster” Soaries, senior pastor at First Baptist Church, blessed the bikers at 3 p.m., thanking them for the efforts to keep young men involved in “positive gangs.”
“Teach to bike, not to fight. Teach to love, not to hate,” Pastor Soaries said in his blessing, “We pray for unity and love that transcend just today, and become a legacy for our children.”
A member of the Goodfellaz MC, the main sponsor club of the event, Soaries identifies with the bikers as brothers and sisters in the MC and as children of God.
“We are not animals because of the way we dress,” he said, “Bikers feel the breeze on their face and the wind at their back. We pray for their protection.”
“I picked Goodfellaz MC because they have bail bondsmen,” Soaries joked.
Rev. Darrel Webster from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Greenwood, Indiana, said the event and Soaries’ blessing were a great way to help those who do not understand the potential connection between church and community.
“I am so excited by your effort,” he said, “I’m going to use the Biker Blessing model for Indiana.”
Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine came to enjoy the food, stunt show, and the diverse community displayed.
“I love this. It’s amazing and beautiful,” Levine said, “We’re a big diverse town, and this church is committed to community.”
The Biker Blessing was the last event in a weekend of community outreach from First Baptist Church called “Men Building Men.”
The weekend is a part of the church’s “Quest for Authentic Manhood,” headed up by Keith Harvey.
“We look to take an average man and have him expose his wounds, and then have him heal those wounds,” Harvey said, “Then they use God’s power to heal others.”
The Biker Blessing, Harvey explained, helps to build better men because it takes place at First Baptist Church, in the “heart of the hood.” Harvey said many men and their sons participated in Men Building Men.
“It’s a church for everybody in the area, and the blessing gives the community a different perspective of church and of bikers,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for people who don’t go to church to come in a comfortable way. It’s not in your face.” Hayslett said, “The bikers are in their element, and they’re at church.”
Donald Corbin, president of Goodfellaz MC for five years, was happy to give back to the church and the community.
“We’re trying to reach kids with motorcycles,” he said, “The blessing is about giving back and bringing everyone together.”
Corbin said that when their bikes are in the garage, the members of Goodfellaz MC go back to normal, everyday jobs, like his landscaping job in Somerset.
Besides stunning bikes and vests, attendees enjoyed free food and a stunt show on Millstone Road. At the stunt runway, the thunderous growl of the bike engines mixed with the DJ’s house beats and formed a raw soundtrack, for a place that usually echoes with liturgical music on Sundays. The new sound brought listeners in droves.
“This is not about church,” Pastor Soaries said, “It is about community, and recognizing the need to connect.”
Tempers flared after the blessing, as the event was drawing to a close, and the fights caused the crowd to spill out onto Somerset Street.
The police arrested two men outside of the convenience store across from the church, Hayslett said.
It is unknown whether any charges were brought against those who fought.