BROOKSVILLE — Buzz Boyd says it was an encounter he had with God 14 years ago that led to his ministry to motorcyclists.
"I turned my life over to the Lord in 1996. I was sitting on the bed and I asked the Lord what he wanted me to do," Boyd said. "I told him, 'First off, I love you, I love my family, and I love to ride bikes. That's the things I love the most, and that's what I'm giving you to use.' "
Boyd said the next thing he knew, he was involved in the Christian Motorcycle Association. He and his wife of 32 years, Janette, who had become a motorcycle enthusiast in 1992 because of her husband, began holding prayer meetings in their home for the group. Boyd was also a chaplain for the local chapter of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, commonly referred to as ABATE.
In 2006, the couple's ministry expanded.
"There was a non-Christian biker that came to our prayer meetings," Boyd said. "One night everybody else left, and he still sat on the couch. He sat there for a while and then said, 'Why don't we have a place for bikers to worship?' "
The idea wasn't new to the Boyds. They had been praying about starting a church for two years. But the cost of renting a building for services was prohibitive.
"He said, 'If we have a place to meet, could we do it?' I said, 'Well yeah.' It didn't even take him a day and he found us a place," Boyd said.
"We were out riding with CMA and kept running into people that told us they wished they had a church they could go to," Janette Boyd said. "Most bikers want to wear their leathers and just ride their bike in. They had tried finding churches, and they didn't feel comfortable in any of them. So the more we heard that, the more we wished there was something we could do, and God just kept opening doors."
The group, calling its church the Biker Worship Center, began holding services in a bar, with Buzz Boyd as the pastor. Later, they began meeting monthly at the Marine Corps League Detachment west of Brooksville, and Boyd, who works during the week at an egg farm, became ordained through the Full Gospel Assemblies International.
Besides preaching each month since then, Boyd has officiated at funeral services, vow renewals and rededications.
"I'll be doing some weddings and baby dedications soon," he said.
Janette Boyd, who is employed by the Hernando County school system, works behind the scenes at the church, making sure everything runs smoothly and that the equipment, such as a stereo and overhead projector, is in place. She also provides books to those who attend, designs fliers to be given out and sends out news releases.
The Boyds' daughter, Maria Folde, leads the praise and worship and teaches children's church.
With as many as 40 people of all ages coming to the monthly services, Buzz Boyd recently agreed to honor members' requests to have weekly meetings. As of Aug. 1, there will be a service at noon each week at the Marine Corps League.
Boyd believes only God could have ordained the growth of his ministry. He recalled the first service they held.
"People still come who came when it started," he said. "It was a pitch dark room in the bar; all the walls were black. We put the words for the music up and had a tiny thing that we played music on. They sat there with their arms crossed and their heads down, a scowl on their faces. They were bound and determined they weren't going to listen to that music or sing."
Boyd preached to them anyway, thinking that they were going to hit him with their soda glasses.
"That's how mean they were," Boyd said. "All of a sudden I've got these same guys asking for services every Sunday now."
"We have a heart for bikers," Janette Boyd said. "They are such wonderful people. Most of them will give you the shirt off their backs."
Buzz Boyd said there have been a number of conversions to Christianity.
"We offer them the salvation of the Lord," he said. "A lot of them are looking for something. Most of them come because they can understand when I'm talking to them — none of this big theology. I get right down to the nitty-gritty of what's going on today and what should be done.
"If they don't like it, sorry. God told me to tell it this way, and that's the way I'm telling it."