DENHAM SPRINGS - To some motorists driving on Florida Boulevard, a row of motorcycles in a parking lot might look like trouble.
But for a nearly year-old congregation here, the bikes are a sign of triumph.
On a recent weekend, the Harleys, Hondas and Suzukis belonged to about 30 bikers, both men and women, who were attending Sunday evening services at Higher Destiny Biker Church.
Located a half-mile west of Range Avenue in Denham Springs, the small church was formed in August by biker and pastor Lester ?Big Les? May and his wife, Lynda. The nondenominational ministry is open to anyone, especially to those who feel like they don?t fit in a traditional church setting, he said.
?We just love Jesus; that?s it,? said May, 59, in a big voice that projects to the back of the small, 20-pew sanctuary. ?We want to be able to make a difference in peoples? lives and share Christ?s love in their time of need.?
The church?s phone number is (225) 243-6280.
?You can come to this house however you are dressed,? the pastor said. ?You don?t have to put on airs; you don?t have to put on suits. You?re coming for Jesus; you?re not coming for someone else?s inspection.?
May fits the biker part with his worn leather vest, long brown hair, braided gray beard and T-shirt displaying the church?s motorcycle and cross logo. His Harley-Davidson Wide-Glide sparkles with chrome and rumbles with power.
?Biking has always represented freedom, and Jesus said, ?I have come to set you free,? ? May said. ?The freedom we truly long for is only found in him.?
The church doesn?t hold Sunday morning services, May said, because many members participate in rallies or other biker events. A prayer meeting is held at 7 p.m. Mondays and another service is held at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
?A lot of churches, I don?t fit in,? said Greg Constant, 26, who rides a sleek Honda Sabre and declares his faith on his denim vest emblazoned with the Christian Motorcyclists Association symbol. ?I feel like I fit in here.?
Cindy Landry, an artist who made the church?s motorcycle-shaped sign, has been attending since last fall, though she?s not a biker.
?This church isn?t strictly about bikers,? Landry said. ?It?s about worshipping the Lord. Everyone is welcome ? especially families. We hope to have a Sunday school program soon.?
Connee Bennett rode a Harley for decades until 1993, when her kidneys failed and she underwent a successful transplant. An accomplished pianist for the church?s praise band, she?s known the Mays for many years.
?Everybody here has a story,? Bennett said. ?These are down-to-earth people who are willing to help with anything you need.?
Mike and Kay Winbourn are founding members and have been involved in the Christian Motorcyclists Association for many years. Mike Winbourn is president of the Baton Rouge Chapter, the Peacemakers, and Kay Winbourn sings in the praise band when they?re not off riding their Harley Ultra-Classic.
?We accept anybody, all shapes, sizes, colors, well dressed or wearing rags,? Mike Winbourn said.
?Every need anybody has we try to help meet that need,? Kay Winbourn added. ?We give what we can because we love Jesus. We don?t judge anybody.?
Many of the church?s members are CMA members, May said, but they also have some new believers, some from other churches, and some who regularly attend other churches that don?t hold Sunday evening services.
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