540 miles in 7 days, many of which were pedaled in record heat. Through it all, a handful of bicyclists led by Team Sweaty Sheep—a new worshiping community in Mid-Kentucky Presbytery—thrived, arriving here at the 220th General Assembly (2012) Saturday afternoon.

“It was a great ride, and it always feels good when you’re done,” said the Rev. Philip Lotspeich, coordinator of church growth ministries for the General Assembly Mission Council. 

Lotspeich, Sweaty Sheep team “captain” Ryan Althaus, and the Rev. Peter Barnes-Davies, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Scottsburg, Ind., biked through mostly rural Indiana, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, staying overnight at Presbyterian churches along the way. 

“There’s a lot of hope out in churches,” said Chris Valentine, husband of General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Valentine, who biked with Team Sweaty Sheep for 200 miles.

“They really resonated with our message.”

Team Sweaty Sheep, whose motto is “Re-creation Through Recreation,” is one of 11 ministries recognized this year as part of the General Assembly Mission Council’s effort to “ignite 1001 new worshiping communities” in the next 10 years.

“Biking to GA from Louisville was a way to show God is moving in the PC(USA),” said Althaus. “Too often we forget our interconnectedness as a denomination.”

Sweaty Sheep cyclists rode into opening plenary Saturday night with General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons.