July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Liverpool Twp. church enters Demolition Derby at county fair

Marty Naumilket, left, and Mark Cereshko discuss the engine of a car to be used by a team from LifeSpring Community Church in the Demolition Derby at the Medina County Fair. The men, members of the men’s ministry at the church, got together Wednesday to work on a new paint job and make sure the car was ready for Monday’s derby. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

Church get-togethers usually include bake sales, picnics and Sunday sermons.

But the congregation at LifeSpring Community Church in Liverpool Township came up with something a bit more exciting.

On Monday night, more than 50 church members went to the Demolition Derby at the Medina County Fair to cheer on Ray Eggert, who represented the church on the track loaded with ruthless drivers bent on taking the other driver’s car out of the game. Call it a modern-day version of Daniel in the lions’ den.

Eggert, who volunteered to drive the car, said it’s something fun for the men’s ministry at the church to get together and work on. He got the 1995 Buick LeSabre the men used for the derby car from his brother.

Eggert said it was barely in working shape, but it gave the men’s ministry something to work on together.

“We can be gruff guys working on cars and still believe in God,” he said.

Marty Naumilket hosted the men from the church at his home on Wednesday to prepare the car for the derby.

Chris Wohlewend and her husband Bob cheer on the LifeSpring demolition Derby truck on Monday night at the Medina fairgrounds. They were joined by at least 50 other members of the church and had one of the largest cheering sections for a single derby car. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

All the glass from the car had to be removed and the front two doors painted white so the car number could easily be spray-painted on. Other modifications like securing the gas tank to the floor must be made before the cars can enter the derby.

“Being a believer isn’t just believing in God,” Naumilket said. “We want to show people there is more to it than that.”

Pastor John Baker said he recently joined the church from Minnesota and learned that the church participated in the Demolition Derby.

“I never heard of a church doing it before, but I thought, why not,” he said.

Eggert was in the first heat, and his car was one of the first to be eliminated when his steering gave out. Still, the congregation was impossible to miss in the cheering section, sporting bright green shirts and cheering for all the bumps and crunches during the heat.

The group even got a shout-out from the announcer.

“It looks like you’ve got quite a cheering section out here,” the announcer said after Eggert entered the mud-coated demolition arena.

If anything, church members said the derby gives them a chance to get together for fun times outside of the worship hall.

“This is my second year coming,” Shirley Larson said. “I’d have to say I wouldn’t have seen the derby if it weren’t for coming with the church. But it’s fun.”

Chris Wohlwend recently joined the church with her husband, Bob. She said Bob was excited to learn the church sponsored a derby car.

Bob joined the men’s ministry in working on the car to get it ready for the derby.

“We’re actually new to the church, and my husband loves the Demo Derby,” she said. “We laughed and thought, this church is kind of perfect for us,” she said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.