246 salvations at church car show outside Motor City

By Diana Chandler

REDFORD, Mich. (BP) – When Commonwealth of Faith Church decided to close vacation Bible school with an antique car show Aug. 27, the date conflicted with Crusin’ Hines, an annual car show that attracts thousands.

“‘You guys just need to close yours,’” Crusin’ Hines enthusiasts told Commonwealth founding pastor Torion Bridges, he said.

When torrential rains flooded the grounds where a community-wide car show was to be held, exhibitors instead participated in the antique car show Aug. 27 at Commonwealth of Faith Church in Redford, Mich., where 500 cars were on display and 246 souls were saved. Submitted photo

By week’s end, torrential rains flooded Hines Drive and Hines Park, the annual larger event’s venue, which is also a designated flood zone. Organizers had to cancel.

Antique car owners and enthusiasts instead participated in Commonwealth’s event on higher ground. Bridges calls it “divine intervention.”

Two-hundred-forty-six attendees professed faith in Christ at the event outside Detroit, where the auto industry drives a culture all its own.

Bridges preached a 16-minute evangelistic sermon in the middle of the event held in place of Sunday worship.

“At that time people got out of their cars, people got out of their truck beds, people got out of their picnic chairs. They got out of their seats,” Bridges told Baptist Press. “And 246 of them made decisions for Christ.”

Carole, a former Catholic, is among 246 Redford, Mich., area residents who accepted Christ at an antique car show hosted by Commonwealth of Faith Church. North American Mission Board church Torion Bridges is her new pastor. Submitted photo

Bridges, a bivocational pastor who planted his church through the North American Mission Board in 2019, today preaches to an average of 157 people in Sunday worship. Commonwealth is located in a former Catholic church and school complex with 800 parking spaces that accommodated 500 antique cars, a salvation tent, vendors, bounce houses, Bible trivia and other games.

“Planting isn’t easy but days like Sunday make it worth it,” he said. “Our car lot was jam-packed from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with car enthusiasts from all over Michigan who had planned to come cruise Hines Drive but couldn’t, because of its closure during from the previous week’s storms.”

The Baptist State Convention of Michigan supported the Commonwealth event through an evangelism grant.

The church has attracted a membership of about 60 percent white and 40 percent Black. The car show drew an ethnically diverse crowd, and most of those who professed faith in Christ joined Commonwealth.

“The majority of them joined Commonwealth,” Bridges said.

The Commonwealth of Faith Church’s antique car show Aug. 27 in Redford, Mich., culminated a week of Vacation Bible School and drew 246 decisions for Christ. Church planter and pastor Torion Bridges is shown with “Batman,” who exhibited his” Batmobile.” Submitted photo

The church will hold a community-wide baptism Sept. 24. Registration is at 124, still three weeks out from the event.

They plan to purchase a portable baptismal, as the Catholic facility did not have one. The church’s previous baptisms have been conducted in church facilities that included baptisteries or other locations.

With the help of NAMB, Commonwealth purchased its facility for $300,000 against an appraised value of $7.5 million. Both Bridges and his wife Jasmine are employed full-time by the federal government.

Commonwealth is evangelizing and discipling a community Bridges said flourished after the 1967 race riots in Detroit. The township has 48,500 people, according to 2022 U.S. Census estimates, and is 44 percent white, 50 percent Black and nearly 6 percent Hispanic.

Car shows are prime events in Redford. The Catholic church, school and convent that previously occupied the building held car shows weekly on Wednesdays. Antique car owners are among Commonwealth’s members, with Bridges owning a classic 1976 Lincoln Continental Marc IV, and his deacon chairman restoring a 1967 Ford Mustang.

“It’s a whole subculture here,” Bridges said of car shows. In addition to a costumed Batman accompanied by his Batmobile, Fred Flintstone also showed up.

Published August 29, 2023

Diana Chandler

Diana Chandler is senior writer for Baptist Press.