Monday, March 9, 2009

Thieves Steal Hope from Detroit Congregation

For a number of years, the leaders of St. Philip and St. Stephen’s Church on Detroit’s east-side sought to match its limited resources with the ministry needs of the church’s immediate neighborhood. Members attended church-growth seminars and tried to apply the urban ministry strategies they were taught in the hope that the struggling inner-city church would rebound one day.

Finances for the dozen or so faithful members of the church have been precarious for a number of years, according to The Record, the Diocese of Michigan’s newspaper, but even a $3,000 heating and utility bill in January could not destroy the confidence of the congregation. All that changed in mid-February, when what remained of the congregation’s hope and confidence was stolen along with virtually everything else not nailed down. The congregation voted soon after to close.

Thieves stole office equipment and cleaned out the church’s supply of emergency food, diapers and infant formula.

“They took everything that could be sold,” said Jane Johnson, a member for 22 years and one of the organizer’s of Trudy’s LovingCenter, a safe haven and resource for neighborhood families and at-risk mothers which opened in 2005. Last fall the center added an after-school program attended by 19 neighborhood children. In an interview with a reporter for The Record, Ms. Johnson said that the break- in was the final straw.

“[It] said to me, ‘We’ll never be protected’. It would cost $2,400 for bars on the windows, but this time, they crow-barred the door,” she said.

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