A PRIEST who finds his flock among the worldwide camaraderie of classic-car enthusiasts has been nominated for two international awards for his work.
The Revd Adam Gompertz, who is 47 and a pioneer minister in Shrewsbury, in Lichfield diocese, founded the REVS group five years ago, and its enthusiasts met regularly in café car parks to talk about cars. But, when the lockdown began, his wife, Charlotte, who is the Vicar of Shelton and Oxon, suggested that he move the meetings online. He launched REVS Limiter, a Facebook group open throughout a weekend, during which its members chat and swap videos about their vehicles.
“When we did the first one, we hoped that if 200 people watched, we would be doing all right; but, by the end of the first day, we had 2000,” he said. “By the end, it was nearly 3000.” A second event, in June, attracted almost 5500, including petrolheads from the United States and South Africa; and a third, scheduled this month, was expected to exceed that.
Now, he has been shortlisted in the annual Historic Motoring Awards, which has entries from around the world. He is nominated for Classic Car Ambassador of the Year, and REVS is a finalist for the Lockdown Initiative 2020. The winner is decided by public vote, and the virtual ceremony will take place on 22 October.
“It’s lovely for REVS to be recognised,” he said. “It’s a whole team of people, but to be nominated for Classic Car Ambassador — my goodness! I hadn’t expected that. It’s a pretty hefty field in the lockdown award: we’re up against the likes of Mercedes World, in Stuttgart, and the Goodwood racing circuit.”
Mr Gompertz’s interest in cars pre-dates his ordination in 2013: he was part of the MG Rover design team. He has also worked for Rolls-Royce, and designed luxury yachts.
His ministry, he said, was “very much outside of church, church buildings — even the established church structure in some senses: engaging with a group of people, some who have faith, others who don’t, and some who are still on a journey, but all with a passion for classic vehicles.
“We offer prayer and start relationship-building with them. I want to show that God is interested in every area, and that includes their passions, and that he has something to say even in the midst of all that.
“One of the key things about REVS is being where people are at rather than expecting them to come to us. The perfect example is Jesus’s being out in fields or by lakes. This is exactly that. For some people, you need to engage with them where they are. It’s another way of doing church.
“When I was offered a place for ordination training, I thought I was turning my back on cars for ever, but God sometimes shows a sense of humour. I am probably more involved in the industry now, as an outsider, than I was when I was working in it.”
Although he loves classic cars, he has never owned one — but he did once briefly have a DB11 on loan from Aston Martin, when he worked there. The family’s current motors are a Volvo and a VW Polo.
“We do have Aston Martins and Ferraris in REVS, but we also have Morris Marinas and Mini Metros,” he said. “It’s not the posh stuff: it’s the stories that come with them that matter.”