On Father’s Day weekend, the American Lung Association of the Northeast will celebrate the 29th annual Trek Across Maine, with more than 2,000 cyclists taking off from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and finishing up at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast.

The event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization nationwide, raising $1.8 million in 2012, with a goal of $2 million for 2013.

When most people think about the Trek Across Maine, they think about a community of cyclists from all across the country coming together to ride to support the Lung Association’s mission to save lives by preventing lung disease and improving lung health.

It’s a mission Kevin Pleas, who is a reverend at the First Congregational Church in Camden, takes to heart. Pleas explains that he so enjoys the whole process of the Trek and getting together with people of like mind and like heart that he started a team at his church several years ago.

“I first became involved with the Trek Across Maine nine years ago when I moved to Camden from another area of the country,” said Pleas in a news release. “I had been involved in cycling before and had cycled in the AIDS ride from Boston to New York and some other charity rides. When I arrived in Camden I heard a lot about the Trek and knew I had to become involved. For the first four years, I cycled in the event solo but then I got some people from the church involved and it grew from there. This year I am cycling on the athenahealth team, but several youth from church are part of a team called the ‘Cruisin Cats’ and we all train together.”

Pleas said the people who attend the Trek year-after-year become like an extended family. That’s why he’s inviting all trekkers — of all faiths and denominations — to join the First Congregational Team for a training ride that will follow their annual blessing service June 9. The blessing is a small part of the church’s regular, theologically progressive service, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear a jersey, Trek Across Maine shirt or something that will distinguish them as a rider or volunteer. The blessing includes some affirmations and well wishes upon all those who participate and volunteer at the Trek Across Maine. A training ride will follow the service.

“We have hosted this training ride and blessing service every year and thought it would be nice to open our doors to our extended family of trekkers,” said Pleas. “We invite trekkers to join us for just the ride, the ride and the service or just the service, whatever they choose. ”It’s a nice way to train for the ride, focus on why we’re all participating in the ride and collectively wish each other well as we prepare to embark upon this journey.”

Following the service, riders are invited to join in a training ride from the church parking lot to the Owls Head Light and back, a distance of roughly 30 miles. Secure bike storage will be available during the service. Participants are asked to bring a lunch. Water and snacks will be provided at Owl’s Head.

For more information about the blessing service and training ride being hosted by the First Congregational Church in Camden, contact Rev. Kevin Pleas at revkevin@camdenucc.org.