Gene Skipworth, a retired United Methodist minister, will be at the Carmi Public Library for a book signing on Monday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m. Wear Your Collar chronicles some of his experiences with motorcycle gang members while serving as minister to an inner city United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gene’s experiences of riding and racing motorcycles allowed him to gain a certain amount of respect from some of them. The respect was gained only after many encounters with them on their turf and sometimes after physical abuse from the notorious gang members. Gene attempted to offer Jesus’ love to help them to turn away from their self-destructive ways and live lives of treating themselves and those around them in a more civil manner. He was able to rescue some of them from their hopelessness.
‘Wear your collar’ was a request from some gang members when Gene would be asked to accompany them when they were to appear in court for a civil charge, or when they would want him to accompany them to meet with rival gangs. Besides visiting them in jails and hospitals, he also conducted marriages and funerals for them. Some recognized that his moral authority may help them when they were in desperate situations and to live a more useful life.
In the book Gene gives an inside look at why motorcycle gang members join, how they treat others, and that even the most ruthless of the members do have redeeming qualities.
After three years of ministry to the gang members, Gene reflects on the changes in their lives as a result of the investment of his time and the physical abuse to himself. The evidence of this was when some of the gang members joined a church and lived productive lives.