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.
It may be instructive to juxtapose the above news item with the following item (after all, if one it going to quote the Bible for economic purposes it helps to know that God’s Word has a lot to say about helping the poor):
Netherlands leads rich nations in helping poor
WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Small European nations led by the Netherlands do more than major industrial economies like the United States when it comes to helping poor countries, according to the 2008 Commitment to Development Index released on Thursday.
The index, developed by the Washington-based Center for Global Development, ranks 22 rich countries based on how their policies on aid, trade, investment, security, environment, technology and migration promote global development.
The Netherlands ranked first for the fourth consecutive year, with Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Ireland close behind. The United States trails near the bottom in 17th place.
David Roodman, the architect of the index and a CDG research fellow, said the United States’ poor ranking demonstrates the challenges for President-elect Barack Obama’s administration in improving the U.S. leadership on development, an important tool for strengthening foreign policy.
Development groups and African leaders have expressed concern that the global financial crisis that has pushed the United States into a recession will slow the flow of aid to the world’s neediest countries.
Roodman said previous cases of banking crises in rich countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway and Japan showed aid was affected. In Finland and Japan, aid fell by about half during their crises, Roodman said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see foreign aid from rich countries fall by one-third in the next few years,” he added.
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