From April 17-May 1, 2016, a Mid-South Lutheran pastor will take on the challenge of cycling from northwest Arkansas, into southern Kentucky, all the way to northeast Tennessee, stopping in 10 cities along the way to take part in a variety of service projects. The 1,200-mile adventure is called the Cycle & Serve Tour and it kicks off in Bentonville, AR on Sunday, April 17. Pastor Bill Ondracka of Christus Victor Lutheran Church (Knoxville, TN) is the lead cyclist in this two-week endeavor. Pastor Ondracka will begin his journey by joining several congregations in the northwest Arkansas area to repair and restore an expansive outdoor public art wall at the Bentonville Parks & Recreation facility (215 SW A Street). From there, he sets off to Cycle & Serve in the following communities across three states:
Monday, April 18 – Fort Smith, AR Tuesday, April 26 – Paducah, KY
Wednesday, April 20 – Mountain Home, AR Thursday, April 28 – Nashville, TN
Friday, April 22 – Conway, AR Saturday, April 30 – Chattanooga, TN
Saturday, April 23 – Stuttgart, AR Sunday, May 1 – Knoxville, TN
Sunday, April 24 – Memphis, TN
“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with many people across the Mid-South to show the community that churches care,” explains Pastor Ondracka. Along the journey, he will serve with hundreds in projects like an “Earth Day” community clean-up; helping in a soup kitchen for the homeless; assembling care kits for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence; serving an appreciation lunch to police and firefighters; and assisting at a cycling and fitness event that will collect donated helmets and bicycles for children in low-income families.
Each service project along the Cycle & Serve Tour is coordinated by a Lutheran congregation or partnership of congregations in that area. Across Arkansas, southwestern Kentucky and Tennessee, there are 123 Lutheran congregations that are part of the regional Mid-South District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The Cycle & Serve Tour is a unique celebration of the Mid-South District’s 50th anniversary. But more importantly, it is an effort to create awareness and encouragement for people to serve their neighbors and communities.
Pastor Ondracka will be accompanied by friend and fellow Christian Cycling group member Mike Carroll for the entire Cycle & Serve Tour. Along the way, a handful of cyclists will join them for 2-3 day stretches of the event. Larger groups of cycling enthusiasts are expected to escort the Tour as they approach and depart from cities where service projects are taking place. For a brief video on the Cycle & Serve Tour, visit https://vimeo.com/154328022. To follow the Tour countdown on Facebook, search “mid-southcycle&serve.”
The Cycle & Serve Tour is generously sponsored by Lutheran Church Extension Fund (lcef.org). The Tour is coordinated by and is a celebration of the Mid-South District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a ministry body comprised of 123 congregations, 11 schools, 27 early childhood centers and hundreds of workers across Arkansas, Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky. To learn more about how the Mid-South District serves and encourages its ministry partners, please visit mid-southlcms.org.