The Cathedral Cruiser

by This Land


When GM decommissioned the Parade of Progress, 12 Futurliners went up for sale. We know that a couple of them found their way to the Michigan State Police and were used as traveling exhibits for fairground displays. We also found out that at least one Futurliner found its way into the hands of the Oral Roberts and was utilized in his popular evangelical crusades of the 1960s.

Parader Jim Tolley recalls, “…I was on duty when Oral Roberts visited the site in Tulsa one evening. I showed him around. He was interested mostly in the tent; he had never seen one like it before, and tents were a part of his evangelical tours at the time. He told me he was leaving for Australia the next day, so I gave him [Parade Director] John Ryan’s number in Detroit. I never heard from him or saw him again and did not know that he had purchased a Futurliner.”

Futurliner volunteer Howard Sullivan paid a visit to the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of February 2004 while visiting relatives in the area. He inquired at the library as to the validity of the story that Oral Roberts had used a Futurliner in his crusades. At first, no one seemed to know what he was talking about. But, persistence paid off as he kept asking various people around the university. He found a hit when his research led him to Abundant Life, a publication by Oral Roberts during that time period. Having obtained copies of the articles, Howard met Don Maynard, who found photos and negatives of the Futurliner. Don put the pictures on a disk and gave them to Howard.

Turns out, Oral Roberts renamed the Futurliner the “Cathedral Cruiser” and converted it into a multipurpose vehicle that served as a bus, presentation stage, living quarters, and truck. The articles from ORU’s archives (thanks to the visit of Futurliner volunteer Howard Sullivan) describe the Cathedral Cruiser used in places such as Mexico, Central and South America, and in the Southwest United States. In he ‘60s, the Cathedral Cruiser was unlike anything that people south of the boarder had ever seen. The combination of this unusual vehicle with all of its unique features and the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association were very effective at drawing large crowds.

According to one of the articles, “Future plans include other teams and other cruisers to span the globe and saturate the world with the message of abundant life.” We have no conformation this vision ever came to pass.

Reprinted with permission from Published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 18, September 15, 2014.