Bicyclists to gather in Athens for 700-mile Tour de TAC

Date Posted: 9/7/2018

For the first time, members of the United Methodist Church and others will gather in Athens to begin a 700-mile bicycle ride.

“We are just starting it,” said Shannon Martin, a spokesperson for the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. “But we are excited to start in Athens. We see this as the heart of East Texas, and we've got some really great churches in that area. There are possibilities for amazing evangelism and outreach in that area.”

The bishop of the Texas Annual Conference, Scott Jones, is expected to join participants, according to a press release.

It is for “a cause he believes in — starting new churches and teaching members how to share their faith. The Tour de TAC is an approximately 700-mile bike ride … ending in Dickinson. The Rev. Morris Matthis, director of New Faith Communities, will share tips on evangelism and the conference’s vision for starting new churches.”

The event is scheduled to start on Friday, with bicyclists leaving First United Methodist Church in Athens at 11 a.m.

“We will have meetings along the ride to learn about starting new churches,” Martin said. “Our goal is for people to come to see how to plant the church. We have some great examples of how to do it. One of the things our bishop will share as he rides along with others is how to start new faith communities. You can start a Bible study around riding bikes or while fishing. You can gather around God's word while doing things you enjoy.”

According to a Pew Research study, one in 10 Americans said they were raised in the church but are now inactive, the press release shows.

“This is the reason why we have to be proactive in beginning or planting so many new churches every year,” Jones said.

And Martin said that young people are changing they way they fellowship with believers.

“A lot of times, young people don't want to come into a church building, but they will do a fishing or hunting Bible study or train dogs together or be involved in a children's play group for Bible study. You just have to find that common ground for people.”

Anyone is welcome to ride in the Tour de TAC with the United Methodists from Athens to Mineola. For a schedule, visit

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