Detroit community guest Wayne Morrow stands proudly next to his 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood. [PC: JeNean Lendor]
Detroiters are all about their cars. So, while attention was on Detroit during the popular North American International Auto Show one local church went into overdrive to capitalize on the timing.
More than 20 vintage cars and trucks —a flying car was the talk of the town— lined the City Temple church parking lot for a community outreach event on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Cars ranging in age from 1938 to 2022 in a variety of colors drew oohs and aahs from dozens of automotive enthusiasts, some making the trek from as far away as Ohio.
But it wasn’t just about cars. “It’s all about God,” said City Temple member Darryl Brezzell who steered the effort, along with a host of others. “It’s fishing for people with a different type of bait, as opposed to tent meetings, ‘Countdown to Eternity’, or ‘Revelation Seminar’,” he said, referencing some of the evangelism series held at the church over the years. Volunteers also shifted into gear, handing out free Christian books to kids and offering adults free tracks and prayer books.
To recruit participants, Brezzell took to the road visiting car shows around the Motor City. His team powered forward behind the scenes getting approval to host the event, passing out fliers, planning a food menu for guests, and organizing the lot for the car line-up. In addition, the United Block Club Council leadership volunteered to help get the word out to other churches and neighbors.
On the day of the car show, revving engines caught everyone’s attention. Engines were heard from down the street, as neighbors came to their porch to watch. “I am enjoying the energy because when I see the cars come out and they rev’ that engine that gets me excited,” said Zelda Solomons, City Temple member. “I love to hear the engines!
Meanwhile, Diane Brown who lives in the neighborhood, said enjoyed seeing the cars but she was particularly pleased to see black men gathering for positive events.
Guests walked around the church’s parking lot posing for photographs with the distinctive-looking cars, asking about its history, and enjoying the owners’ enthusiastic tales and adventures with their car.
Participant Wayne Morrow heard about the car show from a friend and brought his 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood, “One thing I enjoy about the car shows is it gives young people something to do.” Another participant Ken Woodson brought his 1964 Chevy Corvette.
When Brezzell presented the idea to the church, City Temple Pastor and car enthusiast Neville Lendor said he knew this would be a great opportunity to gain traction with the community. “The same way that cars are different, people are different,” Lendor explained. “However, we all find common ground in things that we enjoy the most about cars and people. I believe it is one of the prime examples of the mission of our church to show God’s love, share that love, and create other lovers of God.”
Brezzell said he’s willing to put his muscle into making the car show an annual event, if the church is open to the idea. Afterall, he said, “I think not only is it a good outreach for the community, but it’s an in reach for our church.”
Malissa Martin is a Detroit-based freelance writer.