2018 Rider Profile: John Stoltzfus

Meet John Stoltzfus, fifth in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn more.  Donate.  


“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
~ Wendell Berry

Why ride a bike from Philadelphia to DC when a car would get me there in a few hours?

I could say that I’m doing it because I love the exercise helping keep me in good health. Or I could say that I’m biking for the adventure in the great outdoors. Or I could say that I simply love bikes themselves – so elegant and efficient. Or I could say that I love the excitement of pushing myself to climb a hill and the friendly competition with someone trying to go faster or the great conversation that always seems to go with bike riding. Or I could say that I’m doing it for the guilt free opportunity to indulge in post ride ice cream and chocolate!

While all these reasons hold some truth, I’m riding mostly for the reminder that the task before us is difficult that will require all our collective efforts. Coming to terms with the climate catastrophe is hard. The way is long but the struggle is necessary. It is a spiritual and moral struggle. It confronts our deepest questions and values about ourselves. It requires a radical necessity of moral change. It requires our being saved from business-as-usual.

It also requires us to be grounded in the strength of the larger faith community where we are to live into the call to be good stewards of the planet for the well-being of all of God’s creatures. I look forward to connecting with other communities along the way who are also asking the question of how can we be more of a earth honoring faithful people of God.

As a father of four children I wonder how can we model to the next generation a life that gives witness to the sacredness of this earth. How can we be made uneasy by, or as Martin Luther King Jr. says, “maladjusted” to, the ways our modern society and culture cause harm to the Earth, to each other, and to our spirituality?

Wen Stephenson, in his book “What We’re Fighting for Now is Each Other,” states that “we are not avoiding the catastrophe that is coming within our century and the lives of our children and grandchildren. Rather we’re plunging headlong toward the worst-case scenarios–critical global food and water shortages, rapid sea-level rise, social upheaval–and beyond.” And more importantly those least responsible for the climate change, the poor and marginalized, are often the most affected.

The climate is changing so why aren’t we?

My family and faith community are still exploring how we can be shaped into the kind of people God envisions to embrace a new day of justice, mercy and kindness for all the earth. In my home congregation of Plains Mennonite Church we are looking at small and big ways to respond from participating in local stream cleanups to investigating a move to solar energy. In my family we struggle to reduce our oversized ecological footprint when most everything around us encourages us consume more than our share.

On a recent clear and brisk spring day I was inspired while on a bike ride around the beautiful Galena Lake of Peace Valley Park with my children. In the midst of such beauty it is hard to come to grips with the harm we are doing to this planet, God’s good creation, and to one another. I owe it to them and to all of our children to leave our planet in better shape than when we found it.

When the journey gets hard I remember the words of Kurt Hahn, a champion of experiential education, who said that “there is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)


 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles