Simple Invitation Leads to Vibrant Neighborhood Ministry

Jan 31, 2022 | Stories from the Diocese

By the Rev. Anne West

Some stories don’t really have a beginning or a plan, they are simply God inspired. Two faithful women from Grace Church in Standardsville, Jean Byerly and Betty Moreland, made an offer to some of the neighborhood children to take them bike riding on Thursdays after school. Eventually they added Monday so that they could keep each riding group to 4 kids and 2 adults. The group became known as FAB (Ford Avenue Bikers.) They rode through town, at the school playground, and down the lane to Harbor, where they could pick and eat delicious berries right off the vine.

When the weather was too chilly to ride, they took hikes on dirt roads including a mountain ridgetop, always taking time to observe and appreciate the beauty of the area and to look at any interesting plants and wildlife. The kids’ favorite place to hike was in Dogwood Valley where they could play along the South River, skip stones in the water, and enjoy racing sticks under the bridge.

They met new people on some of their hikes. On one excursion, a girl from 4H showed them the horses she cares for. The kids got to groom the horses and watch one of them perform tricks. Another day, they were invited into a beautiful chalet and got to see spectacular views. The owner is a nurse who volunteers at the free clinic in Greene. She enjoyed meeting the kids and showing them her lovely home.

It was very fulfilling to see the kids improve in fitness and stamina. They learned to deal with fear of unknown places, how to take turns riding in front and in back, how to care for their bikes, and how to be safe while biking.

Grace Church has become a second home for these kids. They know they are loved and supported by Grace. And out of a simple gesture from two wonderful parishioners, we now have a weekly Sunday school with eight to 10 children and we get the opportunity to inspire these children in the ways of Jesus and the way of LOVE.