ON JUNE 17, 1972, 2,700 people from the United States and Canada entered the Ford Auditorium on the banks of the Detroit River for the opening of the Detroit evangelistic campaign. This was the beginning of eight weeks of intensive spiritual emphasis for the Detroit metropolitan area.
F. L. Jones of the Lake Union Conference was assigned the responsibility of laying the groundwork for this campaign. All the pastors of the Detroit area and Windsor, Canada, were a part of this initial thrust. They were subsequently to function as a well-organized team in the many-faceted operation that was to follow.
An estimated 85,000 people passed through those doors during the next eight weeks. Two baptisms were held, and an other baptism is scheduled. At present there are two hundred thirteen people already baptized as a result of the program. It was an interconference, interracial, and international operation. In this age of racial polarization, the Detroit program offered an outstanding example of Christian brotherhood. Men and women from the suburbs mingled freely with people of the inner city as they came nightly to hear the Word of the Lord.
E. E. Cleveland of the Ministerial Association was the speaker. Strong musical support came from T. Marshall Kelly, a pastor of the Detroit area. Other participating pastors were Samuel Flagg, Lewis Anderson, R. A. Smith, Oliver Cheatham, Raymond D. Hamstra, Eric Dillett, Ervin K. Thomsen, E. A. Roberts, E. L. Juriansz, H. C. Reading, James Ayars, Hermon L. Davis, John Glass. The program was coordinated by Kenneth Mead of Australia. A giant children's service conducted by Pastor O. R. Scully ran concurrently with the nightly program.
Medical and Dental Van Makes Impact
The Southwest Region Conference graciously permitted the use of their giant medical and dental van for three weeks in the city of Detroit. Doctors, nurses, and dentists volunteered their services under the supervision of Dr. Beshi. The dental program was under Dr. Sherman. These dentists, nurses, and doctors granted freely of their time in the treatment of the sick and in physical examinations. In 21 working days a recorded total of 1,274 people passed through that van 580 adults over age 18 and 694 children. In one day in Ecorse, Michigan, 99 people were treated at the van.
This major social outreach was a startling example to the city of Detroit of what a church can do for the uplift of humanity. In addition to this, well over 700 units of food were given out to needy persons during the campaign. We are fortunate as a church that we are geared for this spiritual social outreach, and we are rapidly reaching the conclusion that our program must be on a year-round basis, because for some people of all races in the United States life is a continuing emergency.
Our public-relations exposure was unusual. There were three television appearances, and channel 7 in Detroit did a television documentary on our total program. There were two radio talk shows, and the religion editor of the Detroit Free Press did a favorable feature story on the Detroit campaign. The program in Detroit asserts once again that the Spirit of God is still at work in His church and through our message and that the preaching of the gospel can still claim the attention of judgment-bound men and women.
On one of the television interviews the commentator asked the question, "Do you believe that the Bible and church and public evangelism are relevant to today's needs in today's world?" Pastor Cleveland's answer was simple and direct: "The lesser must relate to the greater; therefore, your question should be, 'Is man in this age and life in this generation relevant to God, to the church, and to the Bible? We must not look upon God and religion and the church and the Scriptures as something that must be adapted to meet the peculiar needs of man but rather that God, the church, and the Bible already have provided for man's basic needs and that man needs voluntarily to relate to Bible solutions. It is man who needs changing; not the Bible, not religion, not God."
The seminary students who came from Berrien Springs, Michigan, left full of enthusiasm for the evangelistic program of the church and with even greater confidence in its authenticity both as to the movement and its mission.
We can all say, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord." I was present at the last baptism and saw more than 90 people baptized in water for the remission of their sins. It was a glorious sight.