WASHINGTON -- The Rev. Dave Jane is taking a trip to Chicago next weekend. He'll be riding there on his bicycle.
Jane, pastor at Connect Church in Washington, and three other men are cycling June 17 and 18 from Washington Middle School to Adler Planetarium in the Windy City to raise money to help build a Compassion International children's center and church in San Lorenzo, Ecuador.
Connect Church has generated $15,000 of its fundraising goal of $20,000 for the building.
"We hope the raise the remaining $5,000 through donations from our ride," Jane said.
So why are Washington Middle School and Adler Planetarium the start and finish lines for the 155-mile journey?
Washington Middle School is where Connect Church has held its Sunday services since the church was founded in September 2013.
"Adler Planetarium is one of my favorite spots in Chicago because it gives you a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline," Jane said. "I picture us with our backs to the skyline and bikes beside us after we finish our ride, hopefully with smiles on our faces. That will be a great photo opportunity."
The ride is Jane's idea. It grew from a solo effort to a quartet.
"I wanted to do something that would challenge me physically and raise funds for our Ecuador project," he said.
Jane, 46, shared his plans with Connect Church member and Washington resident Nate Lambert, 38, who often rides with Jane, and Lambert decided to go.
Lambert's friend Ben Schlipf, 30, from Tremont signed up after training with Jane and Lambert. The Rev. Scot Mendenhall, 38, Jane's brother-in-law and the pastor of a church in Maple Grove, Minn., was the final man to join the team.
"Scot is a keen cyclist," Jane said. "Plus, he wants to introduce Compassion International to his congregation, and he figured this ride would be a great way to do that."
Blake Martin, a Washington resident and Connect Church member, will follow behind the cyclists during the trip in the church van. He'll have food, drinks and supplies for the bicycles.
He'll be there when the cyclists stop "and if we run in trouble, he'll be close enough to help us with spare tires, etc," Jane said.
The entourage will leave Washington Middle School at 6 a.m. June 17. Day One will take the cyclists 90 miles north and east through quiet country roads to Morris. Day Two is a 65-mile ride.
"It's shorter, but a bit trickier because we'll be riding through the Chicago suburbs north of Interstate 80," Jane said.
If all goes well, the cyclists should arrive at the planetarium at about 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. June 18.
"We'll load up the van with our bicycles and aching bodies after we get to the planetarium and head back to Washington Middle School that night," Jane said.
Average weekly attendance at Connect Church's services is 450. Jane said church members hope someday to have a place to call their own.
"It may be a few years off," he said. "Our goal is to find a building or build one in Washington large enough for us to meet each Sunday. In the meantime, we're looking for a smaller space for offices, midweek meetings, small groups and youth group activities."
This is the second time Connect Church is raising $20,000 to help build a Compassion International children's center and church in San Lorenzo, where the average household income is $150 per month, 75 percent of the population of 60,000 is teens and children, and there are 12 parishes.
Connect Church's first fundraiser began in 2014 and hit its goal in mid-2015.
"We partnered with two other churches the first time to build the children's center and church," Jane said. "Compassion International was able to add 200 children from the area into its sponsorship program.
"About 45 of these children are sponsored by Connect Church families," he said. "Each family is assigned a child. Money sent each month helps clothe, feed, educate and provide healthcare for the child. Each family writes to the child and the child writes back."
Most of the funds raised by Connect Church for the Compassion International buildings has come from one-time gifts and weekly offerings by church members.
Jane said each Compassion International church and children's center has a large hall, small hall, classrooms and a kitchen.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com. Read his Stein Time blog on pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter.com/SpartanSteve.
What: 155-mile fundraising bicycle ride from Washington Middle School to Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
When: June 17 and 18.
Donations: www.cycleforcompassion.com or send a check made out to Connect Church to Connect Church, P.O. Box 346, Washington, IL 61571.