For one pastor, stepping down from the pulpit means he can step up for a good cause.
On May 13, Roy Halberg, former pastor of Grace Fellowship of Alta Loma, a Charis Fellowship congregation in California, will buckle his helmet and hit the road on his bike. His plan is to cycle across the country: all 4,228 miles.
Halberg is riding to raise money for Water for Good, a Charis Fellowship cooperating ministry that works with local people to provide sustainable, lifesaving water access in the Central African Republic. His goal is to raise $5 for every mile he rides, for a total of $21,140.
The impact of this fundraiser could be huge. For every mile Halberg gets sponsored, one person will be provided with clean water for a year. If every mile is funded, that will allow 4,228 people access to the clean water they need.
“Jim Hocking, the founder of Water for Good, was in my first youth group 45 years ago when I became a youth pastor, and we have been good friends ever since. I have watched the development of Water for Good, and my wife and I have supported the ministry financially for several years. I love what the organization is doing and could not think of any cause I’d rather support,” says Halberg.
This “bikepacking” journey will start in Yorktown, Va., and will follow the TransAmerica Bike Route (formerly known as the Bicentennial Bike Route) to either Astoria or Florence, Ore., and it will take about three months to be completed.
“In Virginia, I will place my rear wheel in the Atlantic Ocean,” Halberg says. “The ride will end when I dip my front wheel in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon.”
Halberg will travel through 10 states: Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. He expects to sleep in hostels, churches, fire stations, and possibly some homes along the way, as well as camping in roadside shelters and campgrounds.
Halberg has been riding bikes his whole life. The first bike he bought was purchased with money from his first newspaper route at nine years old. The second bike he bought was a 10-speed Schwinn Varsity, which he bought in junior high.
Now, a few years later, Halberg has some help lined up for beginning this journey across the country.
“I plan to ship my bicycle to Williamsburg, Va., where my friend, Mark Penfold, the Chaplain Ministries’ Endorser for the Charis Fellowship, will pick up my bike for me,” says Halberg. “I will fly to Virginia, spend a few days with my grandchildren in Virginia Beach, and then meet Mark. He hopes to ride with me from the start in Yorktown through Williamsburg. Once I go fully public with my ride I am hoping that some others will join me along the way as well.”
To bike across the country has always been a dream of Halberg’s, but he has never had the 10-13 weeks necessary to do it.
“As I looked toward to retirement (I’m preferring to call this ‘repurposing’ rather than retiring), I knew it was time to ride,” he shares.
“When the folks at Water for Good asked about my fundraising goal, I said that I thought I could raise $10,000, so I wanted to set a higher goal. I am counting on many people to help me reach my goal.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.