Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SUVs at altar, Detroit church prays for a bailout

By Kevin Krolicki and Soyoung Kim

DETROIT, Dec 7 (Reuters) - With sport-utility vehicles at the altar and auto workers in the pews, one of Detroit's largest churches on Sunday offered up prayers for Congress to bail out the struggling auto industry.

"We have never seen as midnight an hour as we face this week," the Rev. Charles Ellis told several thousand congregants at a rousing service at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple. "This week, lives are hanging above an abyss of uncertainty as both houses of Congress decide whether to extend a helping hand."

Local car dealerships donated three hybrid SUVs to be displayed during the service, one from each of the Big Three. A Ford Escape, Chevy Tahoe from GM and a Chrysler Aspen were parked just in front of the choir and behind the pulpit.

Ellis said he and other Detroit ministers would pray and fast until Congress voted on a bailout for Detroit's embattled automakers. He urged his congregation to do the same.

Other Detroit-area religious leaders -- including Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders convened by Cardinal Adam Maida -- have urged Congress to approve an auto aid package.

But the service dedicated to saving Motown's signature industry at Greater Grace Temple was the highest profile effort to mobilize support yet.

"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," Ellis said. "I call it the working class because everything tells me there is no more middle class."

More at Reuters

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