Jim Carney

When the time came for the blessing of the motorcycles Sunday, the Rev. Randy Baker kicked it off with one word.

“Harley-lujia,” Baker said as about 40 motorcyclists sat on their bikes or stood next to their motorcycles in the parking lot at the Anthony Funeral Home on South Main Street.

The event, which included a tribute to veterans, was the kickoff to a 90-hour Bible reading marathon that began in tents along South Main Street at the funeral home at 4 p.m.

With hands raised and heads bowed in prayer, Baker, the pastor of the Akron Bible Church, prayed for the motorcycles.

“This is about being a blessing as a witness for Christ,” Baker said. “That these motorcycles will be a witness. And riding these bikes will be a witness.”

Due to construction going on at Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron, the Bible reading and prayer vigil was moved this year to the funeral home location on South Main Street.

The National Day of Prayer ceremony will be held at noon Thursday in front of the Summit County Courthouse.

More than 300 volunteers are expected to read the Bible during the 90-hour vigil that began after the motorcycle blessing and veteran tribute.

In addition, 900 volunteers will also be praying this week in a tent that was put up in the parking lot of the funeral home.

Before the blessing of the motorcycles, gospel songs were sung in the parking lot.

Kevin Ivey, 47, the chaplain of Rolling Thunder Chapter 2, who helped organize the event, said the salute to veterans was an important part of the day’s activities.

“If it wasn’t for the veterans we wouldn’t be able to do what we do now,” said Ivey, a general contractor and minister and an Army veteran who served in Panama.

Tracy Milich, a pastor at Risen Warrior Ministries, sat on his motorcycle during the blessing with arms raised to the sky.

“It was awesome,” Milich said of the motorcycle blessing.

“Our bikes are tools to preach the good news,” said the 54-year-old Army veteran from Barberton.

During the event, Baker asked for a complete blessing of each of the motorcycles.

“I pray Father from the front to the back of every bike, Lord, that as we ride, we will be a true witness for God and the king of kings and Lord of lords,” he said.

“Thank God we have some chrome here today,” he said. “We are riding for Jesus.”

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.