By Mark Ambrogi
Zionsville United Methodist Church Rev. Glenn Howell has discovered a unique way to celebrate a milestone birthday. He will ride a recumbent bicycle around Lake Michigan, totaling nearly 550 miles.
“The ride is to celebrate my 60th birthday, but primarily it’s a fundraiser for some of the ministries of this church,” the Zionsville resident said. “It’s a reason for the church to make fun of me. It’s a reason for me to have a personal goal, but primarily it’s a reason to make our ministry stronger both at home and internationally.”
Howell will preside over church services Aug. 28, his birthday, then drive to Ludington, Mich. After spending the night with a fellow pastor, he will take a four-hour ferry to Manitowoc, Wis., Aug. 29, and begin his journey over the top of Lake Michigan.
“It’s an adventure for me,” said Howell, who rode across Indiana on a regular bicycle in two days when he was 33.
The goal is to raise $60,000, so he named the campaign 60 for Sixty. A total of $25,000 will be allotted for initiatives for youth ministries.
“We have some things we’re doing to make our youth ministry stronger and make it a better place for kids,” Howell said.
Another $25,000 will go toward finishing roofing on the west wing of the church. The final $10,000 is for funds to complete a women’s community and education center in the Congo.
“This is one of the most war-torn places in the world, and every bad thing you hear about limbs being chopped off and women being serially raped, that is all there all the time,” Howell said. “The women are doing amazing things when they can just get together and work on community solutions. We’re trying to provide the gathering point for them to do their work and to support them with that.”
Howell said the heaviest amount of giving will come around his birthday, but more than $10,000 has already been raised.
“When we achieve our $60,000, we have another member who is going to attribute $25,000 on top of that,” Howell said. “We’ve had gifts from the $25 range to the $1,000 range.”
Sometimes congregation members are asked to give a little more than they normally give.
“People will respond well here,” Howell said. “It’s a very generous church. It’s a good-hearted church.”
Howell has been the ZUMC pastor for five-and-a-half years.
“As someone who sees him every day, not just on Sundays, I get to see many ways in which Glenn lives out his faith and encourages people to live out the mission of our church to lift lives,” said Jon Ellegood, ZUMC director of youth ministries. “The 60 for Sixty campaign is a tremendous undertaking, for someone of any age, and I look forward to the remarkable ways in which these funds will impact lives here locally and around the world.”
Della Arnold, a Zionsville resident and congregation member, said Howell is always thinking of interesting and altruistic things to do.
“We are proud of his efforts and just hope he is safe,” Arnold said.
The trip will take 10 days, with nine riding days and one rest day. Howell will spend that day with a retired pastor in Traverse City, Mich.
During the trip, Howell will stay in hotels, bed and breakfasts and friends’ of the congregation’s connections.
Meet Glenn Howell
Personal: Rochester High School graduate, played football at University of Indianapolis before a knee injury ended career. Graduated from UIndy in 1978 and Christian Theological Seminary in 1987. Prior to living in Zionsville, Howell worked in Evansville for 18 years. Has a daughter, Moriah, son-in-law John Roberts, and three grandchildren, who live in Zionsville.
Appropriate name: Howell has named his recumbent bike Rocinante, which is the name of fictional character Don Quixote’s horse. He calls the bike Roxi for short.
Donations: Visit facebook.com/60forSixty/ and zumc.org.