Washington D.C. church to host Blessing of the Bikes

Concerned for the safety of bicyclists, a Washington, D.C., church will hold a “blessing of the bicycles” on May 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Fletcher’s Cove, where two bike paths intersect.

Bike riders on a Saturday morning outing will be able to take their bikes to a quiet setting of trees and grass near Fletcher’s Boat House and receive a brief blessing from the Rev. Mary Kay Totty of Dumbarton United Methodist Church of Georgetown.

“We want to raise awareness of bicyclists in the area and celebrate the health benefits and enjoyment people get from bicycles,” she said. “We also want to offer prayers for their well being at a time when bike accidents are a frequent worry.”

Bike blessings are unusual but not unheard of. They are a regular ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York and at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles . Even car blessings are conducted by Buddhists in Japan. We can find no record of such a ceremony in the Washington area.

The church conducting the bike blessing is often ahead of the curve in taking on new ideas. In 1984, it sheltered an undocumented Salvadoran who entered the country illegally as part of the sanctuary movement. In 1987 it became one of the first Washington churches to actively welcome gay and lesbian people to attend. And in 2010 it became the first United Methodist Church in Washington to offer weddings for same-sex couples.

For the blessing on May 12, Fletcher’s Cove can be reached by motorists by driving about a mile from Georgetown down Canal Road to an entrance on the left. For cyclists, it is a spot along both the C&O Canal and the Capital Crescent bike trail.

Prayers won’t just be for cyclists, says the Rev. Totty. “We will pray for the motorists, too.”

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