THE BLACK CHURCH IN DETROIT
Preparing for the 221st meeting of the General Assembly in June
This is painful. Only one full time black Presbyterian pastor in Detroit with an African American Population in the city of over 82%! Where are the resources from “connectional” friends in Presbyteries and the General Assembly? What happened to support urban congregations used to get from General Assembly? I don’t believe we have a single staff person assigned responsibility for helping urban congregations in doing urban ministry.
The congregation I served in Saginaw, the Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church, had around 18-20% African American membership. This is another example an urban church in a predominately black population and I am was a white pastor. The only black pastor in the Presbytery of Lake Huron is in Flilnt, Michigan. Again our multi-cultural/urban congregations need more support / resources and black pastoral leadership.
What are we doing as a General Assembly, specifically and intentionally, in growing multicultural urban worshipping communities? Isn’t this a goal of the 1001 New Worshipping Communities? What about support our established urban congregations need to survive? And yes, we need to find ways to support our black pastors wishing to serve in our cities!
This quote from an article I recommend reading (that elicited my writing this blog):
Our cities—and the churches in them—are in trouble. In 1960 Detroit had 45 Presbyterian congregations. By 2013 that number had dwindled to 12—and of those 12, only four had full-time pastors. If we in the PC(USA) recognize that the church is to stand for peace in the neighborhoods of cities like Detroit, how do we explain the demise of African American Presbyterian congregations in the host city for the 221st General Assembly (2014)—a city that is so predominantly African American?
……In a city (Detroit) with such pressing needs, what few Presbyterian congregations there are have been largely unable to afford even the minimal compensation necessary to support full-time pastors. In a city where 82.7 percent of the population is African American, like Jesus and like Betti Wiggins I weep when I sit at a table with the mayor and other leaders seeking a better life for its citizens and realize that I am the only black pastor representing the Presbytery of Detroit. One is a lonely number.