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article imageDetroit church prays while SUVs are at the altar

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Dec 9, 2008 in Business
Three new sport utility vehicles sat at the altar of a large Detroit church while prayers were offered for Congress to help the domestic auto industry. The service began with the Clark Sisters song, “I’m Looking for a Miracle”
DETROIT MICHIGAN--At Greater Grace Temple, the largest church in Detroit, Sunday's service was about seeking God's help for the domestic auto industry.
There were three hybrid SUVs on the altar just in front of the choir and behind the pulpit. The autos were donated by local car dealerships to be displayed during the service. There was a Ford Escape, Chevy Tahoe and a Chrysler Aspen.
At the service were hundreds of auto workers and retirees all concerned about what will happen to the auto industry and their jobs.
Speaking to several thousand worshippers at the service, Rev. Charles Ellis said, "We have never seen as midnight an hour as we face this week. This week, lives are hanging above an abyss of uncertainty as both houses of Congress decide whether to extend a helping hand."
Ellis encouraged those in his congregation to join him and other Detroit ministers to fast and pray until Congress voted on a bailout for the Detroit automakers.
Ellis said, "Everybody can't live on Wall Street. Everybody can't live on Main Street. But all of us have lived on the side street, the working class. I call it the working class because everything tells me there is no more middle class."
After hearing from auto workers, retirees and their widows Ellis started to organize Sunday's service. He said those who contacted him are fearful of having even harder times.
At the end of the service as the the choir and congregation sang "We're Gonna Make It" a song by the gospel singer Myrna Summer hundreds of those who work in the auto industry went up to the altar. Standing six deep were union assemblers, executives, car salesmen any who were connected with the industry. Ellis had them come up to have their heads anointed with oil.
After the service Ellis said, "It's all about hope. You can't dictate how people will think, how they will respond, how they will vote. But you can look to God. We believe he can change the minds and hearts of men and women in power, and that's what we tried to do today."
According to Michelle McDade, who attended the service, her late father had worked at GM for 30 years and her mother was now living on his pension. She said "I pray in good times and in bad times, but I pray these days because it's something that directly affects our lives. Politicians forgot autoworkers for ages. You can't just forget them. We're also part of the country."
Greater Grace Temple was founded in Detroit 1927 and is one of the city's most influential black churches as well as the largest church with a membership of 8,000.
The funeral for Rosa Parks in 2005 was held at this church.
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