Detroit's Motor City Church brings worship to unique spaces

Every weekend volunteers transform 'CrossFit in the D' gym into a place of worship
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Posted at 1:26 PM, Mar 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-12 15:16:17-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A church in downtown Detroit is winning the hearts of many folks for thinking outside the box.

Known for its friendly atmosphere, Motor City Church helps unite the community by building a place of worship every Sunday, only to tear it down after the service.

"We've been setting up this church since 2020," said Ato Condelee, a volunteer at Motor City Church.

During the week, Ato Condelee works as an engineer, but on the weekends, the 27-year-old is one of the 40 volunteers that help transform CrossFit in the D to Motor City Church.

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"Pipe and drapes that are like 18-feet-long that you got to climb up a ladder and raise, cameras and lights, it's a long process but it's that's what you got to do," said Condelee.

Over time, the 4-hour lengthy process has been reduced to 2 hours.

"I think it's part of our story. The setting up and tearing down of the physical location of Motor City Church has really brought the community together," said Pastor Josh Shockey.

In late 2019, Pastor Josh Shockey moved to Detroit from Fort Worth, Texas, to open a church. However, the pandemic hindered the plans.

"Finding a space for a church was incredibly difficult. So, we end up finding CrossFit in the D. Talked to the owner and he was gracious enough to allow us to use the space," said Pastor Shockey.

It started with 30 parishioners, and now over 250 people attend service. Heather and Brandon Travis come here every Sunday with their two kids.

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"It's just this family feel, when you come in, there is no set way you have to be when you come through the doors," said Heather Travis.

"People are in sweatpants, in hoodies, beanies, they can be in a 3-piece suit, and I'm like what's going on here. I walk in and everyone is super friendly," said Condelee.

"The church is not just a building that we go to, but as believers, as Christians, we believe that we are the church, so where we go that's where the church goes. And so whether we are meeting in a CrossFit gym, in a theater or any open space. We believe God can use it," said Pastor Shockey.

"If folks want to come down to Motor City Church on weekdays, what are the options?" asked Faraz Javed, 7 Action News reporter.

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"We are able to meet at coffee shops all throughout Detroit, which is really cool because we are not tied to one location. We are able to meet people where they are," said Pastor Shockey.

To learn more about Motor City Church and its mission, head to @Motorcity_church on Instagram or visit