Ryan Torma (minister of community life at Spirit Garage in Minneapolis) and I spent the last two days in Detroit. The Bishop's office there is looking at the possibility of an emerging church plant near Wayne State University and wanted our input. First of all...heaps of praise to these people (synod staff, local clergy, outreach board, Episcopal and Lutheran campus ministry) for casting a vision for something they are new to and are only in the begining stages of learning about! There's a good scene there that would lend itself well to postmodern Christian community.
Jack Eggleston from the Bishop's office drove us around downtown Detroit and I still don't quite know how to process what I saw. It was like a bombed out war zone. There were large areas with more abandoned buildings than occupied, including neighborhoods with large victorian homes which hinted at their previous beauty but are now burned up, decimated and raw. These are truly the abdandoned places of empire. Detroit never quite recovered from the race riots of the 1960's and the "White Flight" from the inner city drained the area of needed resources and infastructure. Today in Detroit, one block will be abandoned and another will hold a row of new lofts. One block will have only a run down liquor store with barred windows and the next will host a new gallery and hipster bar. I guess it felt weird to say to them that yeah, there's a happenin' arts and music scene and the creative class are moving back to the city, and then have nothing to say about the death and hopelessness surrounding the "hip scene". The whole experience was darkly and unavoidably punctuated by a reality I would rather not know about...but don't have the option of ignoring anymore.
I don't even have a prayer for this. Do any of you?