DETROIT — The Sunday service at Greater Grace Temple began with the Clark Sisters song “I’m Looking for a Miracle” and included a reading of this verse from the Book of Romans: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Pentecostal Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, who shared the sanctuary’s wide altar with three gleaming sport utility vehicles, closed his sermon by leading the choir and congregants in a boisterous rendition of the gospel singer Myrna Summers’s “We’re Gonna Make It” as hundreds of worshipers who work in the automotive industry — union assemblers, executives, car salesmen — gathered six deep around the altar to have their foreheads anointed with consecrated oil.
While Congress debated aid to the foundering Detroit automakers Sunday, many here whose future hinges on the decision turned to prayer.
Outside the Corpus Christi Catholic Church, a sign beckoned passers-by inside to hear about “God’s bailout plan.” Roman Catholic churches in the Detroit area distributed a four-page letter from Cardinal Adam Maida, the archbishop, offering “some pastoral insights and suggestions about how we might prepare to celebrate Christmas this year when economic conditions are so grim.”
In the letter, Cardinal Maida acknowledged that “things in Michigan will probably never be the same” but encourages the region’s 1.3 million Catholics to maintain their faith. “At this darkest time of the year, we proclaim that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope,” he wrote.
Last week Cardinal Maida gathered 11 Detroit-area religious leaders, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations, to call on Congress to approve the $34 billion in government-backed loans that the automakers have requested.
At Greater Grace Temple, an 8,000-member Pentecostal church in northwest Detroit, the Sunday service was dedicated to addressing the uncertainty facing workers whose livelihood depends on the well-being of General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler.
“We have never seen as midnight an hour as we face this coming week,” Bishop Ellis said, referring to the possibility that Congress would soon vote on a deal to give the carmakers enough money to stay afloat into next year.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we need prayer,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, we’re all in this thing together.”
Greater Grace, the largest church in Detroit, invited officials from the United Automobile Workers union to speak before Bishop Ellis gave his sermon, titled “A Hybrid Hope.”
The S.U.V.’s on the stage, a Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape and Chrysler Aspen on loan from local dealerships, were all gas-electric hybrids, and Bishop Ellis urged worshipers to combat the region’s woes by mixing hope with faith in God.
“We have done all that we can do in this union, so I turn it over to the Lord,” General Holiefield, a U.A.W. vice president for Chrysler, told the crowd. A vice president for the parts suppliers, James Settles Jr., asked those present “to continue your prayers, so we can see a miracle next week.”
Bishop Ellis encouraged the congregation to pray, not that Congress would “do the right thing” and approve loaning money to the car companies, but that Detroiters would “make it” through these tough times.
“We’ve got to keep the faith,” said Mike Young, 47, who works for the Dana Corporation, a parts supplier, and has spent more than three months of this year on furlough. His factory, in the suburb of Auburn Hills, builds drive shafts for Chrysler, which has said it would soon run out of money without billions of dollars in aid from Congress. “But you can’t count on that,” Mr. Young said. “All my hope is in God.”
A version of this article appeared in print on December 8, 2008, on page A19 of the New York edition.
This is serious business. People are counting on the auto industry to make it. This ain’t no joke. These problems are real. Let’s all pray that everything goes well for auto workers.