2016 Rider Profile: Pastor Ben Wideman

Meet Ben Wideman, first in our get-to-know-the-riders series.  The 2016 PA-to-DC ride  will take place April 29 -May 3, though Ben will have to return to State College after Orbisonia, PA.  Ben was a 2015  through-rider.

11143321_638594625579_8980769153136480603_oIn my role as a campus pastor at Penn State my work is primarily focused on issues of peace and social justice and how faith and spirituality is tied in to these things. It is meaningful work, however there is a very real challenge in moving from philosophical conversations to actual practical experiences that create a better world.

I’m drawn to experiences like the PA-IPL Bike Trip because it does just that. It takes a philosophical idea (that people of faith should care about our environment) and provides an opportunity to take an actual real step toward living out that philosophy in a practical way in our world.

This ride acts as a visible reminder that people of faith care about the environment – and that they care enough to ride all the way from central Pennsylvania to Washington DC! The ride builds relationships across a diverse group of participants – not only those who chose to ride, but also all the people who engage the riders at stops along the journey. It offers riders a way to tangibly participate in the political process through lobbying congressional representatives. This experience may be the most significant of the entire trip, and regrettably is one that few Americans ever get to participate in.

Last year, by the time we reached DC, our group had spent enough time with each other that we knew we had found allies who were passionate about climate change, but were also just really great people to spend time with. We didn’t always know what to expect on the journey (well, maybe Jon did) but we had fun doing it. By the end we had found new allies who cared deeply about the future of our world.

When we travel by bicycle, we experience a method of transportation that allows us to consider the geographic spaces we occupy. We ride through landscape and communities that are facing the terrible realities of a warming planet. The experience of riding a bike requires the rider to fully engage. Bicycle travel has the power to elevate a rider’s heart rate, to travel quickly, and focus on the task at hand, yet it can also offer an experience that feels calming, helps the rider slow down and appreciate natural beauty, and even contemplate life’s great mysteries with fellow riders.

Although I’ll only be joining the PA-IPL ride for a few days this year, my heart will be traveling with the group all the way to DC. I believe in the power of experiences like these. I’m proud that there are spiritual people who will use this ride to make their faith more active here and now and into the future.

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders 

or send a check, memo: bike 2016 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801

MANY THANKS to our 2016 silver sponsors Sun Directed, and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor, to our 2016 bronze sponsors the Bicycle Shop and West Arête, and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support! for their support! (Become a sponsor)

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