The Church and the Revisioning of Detroit
As I shared in my sermon from yesterday, I have sensed God's call to get involved in the future of Detroit. I pastor a suburban church that once inhabited a spot on what was then Detroit's Piety Row. Like many largely white churches we moved to the suburbs because we could no longer afford the upkeep on our massive building, and because the vast majority of our members no longer lived in Detroit. So, for the past thirty plus years we have essentially lived as a church in exile. We continue to carry a name that in many ways no longer speaks to the reality of our existence in another city, while no longer sitting on the street that suggested by our name, and yet we've not been able to let go of that name or its legacy. But, perhaps that's not a bad thing in an end. Perhaps that insistence on keeping a name that seemingly no longer makes sense, provides a lifeline to the city we once inhabited.
The question then that needs to be raised concerns the role and place of the church. The Black Church is very much present. It is a major presence. Indeed, what once was Central Woodward Christian Church, when it lived on Woodward Avenue four decades ago, is now Little Rock Baptist Church. There are a number of churches that live in the city and are present, but can there be a partnership between those churches and the churches of the suburbs? Can white and black Christians partner to make for a better, safer, more prosperous Metro-Detroit? And if we begin to plant churches in the city that are not necessarily primarily black churches, what will that mean for the city and its future? These are all important questions that we must wrestle with.
And so I'd like to start a conversation. How do we build bridges between city and suburb? What kinds of ministries might emerge? We are beginning a partnership with Motown Mission, a Methodist sponsored ministry that hosts church mission teams. Most of the young people and adults who will come into the city as a result of ministries like this will be white and suburban or rural. What will be the long term effects on church and city? What say ye?