The Peace Community Spiritual Center is a non-profit Michigan organization located in the center of Metropolitan Detroit and dedicated to serving one of the most culturally, ethnically and religiously divergent neighborhoods in the United States.
Our mission is to build bridges & alliances among the many benevolent people and organizations in our community.
We do this primarily by providing affordable community
meeting space, basic support, and gracious hospitality.
I am the long-time pastor of a small, financially stressed, suburban congregation in Metro Detroit. Our neighborhood was once mostly Anglo – and our membership was large enough to build and support a large facility. Most of those members have aged and moved away or into assisted living facilities. Today our neighborhood is as culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse as anywhere in the U.S. Our immediate neighbors are Anglo, Black, Hispanic, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Jewish, Pentecostal, Catholic, Hindu, Unchurched, Straight, Gay, Old, Young, Conservative and Liberal.
In the fall of 2009, with the recession at its peak, we invited the community around us to join with us under our roof. We began partnerships with four small, ethnic, protestant congregations looking for a home. The partnerships included both rental agreements and covenant agreements to treat one another with respect and love as we use the building together – modeling St. Paul's vision of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 & 13.
The relationships that have been created are pure grace. Two of the congregations are African-American – one from the Church of God in Christ, the other a break-off from the Progressive National Baptist Convention led by a long-time minister and University of Michigan sociology professor. The third is an East Indian Restoration Church led by a missionary pastor from India. The last is a small Presbyterian Congregation that specializes in contemplative prayer. None would be able to afford a building on their own. In addition to the congregations, we began partnering with a struggling Community Theater group that was looking for rehearsal and performance space, and were able to convert our Fellowship Hall into Coffeehouse/Theater space.
Our building has become for all practical purposes a vibrant "spiritual community center" – a place centered around hospitality and grace that encourages community among very different people in the name of Jesus. Like many churches in our area, ours is struggling financially. Some in the ELCA tell me that our kind of neighborhood will not support an ELCA church, so we should give it up. But I believe that would be a shame.
Our congregation has created a vibrant, Spirit-filled, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, ecumenical community housed in our building – a real asset to our community – but our congregation can no longer support this ministry, even with rental income from our partners. To keep this ministry going, the church needs significant new financial resources in order to get through the winter months – about $25,000. We have created a non-profit organization to manage the building and to initiate new ways of relating to the neighborhood surrounding the church. Through that non-profit, we hope to raise some money from the community at large, but that will likely fall far short of our needs. Our local Lutheran Synod office is under-funded and over-committed as it is – so Synod support is not an option.
I am wondering is if there might be funding available for this
ministry and community project that may come from outside of our denomination –
funding that might let us pay our building heating bills this winter, giving
us time to further develop our community center non-profit. Can you
point me to resources, programs, or funding sources of which I may
not aware? Drop me an email, give me a call, or pass on a message
through someone at Peace if you can think of something that might
help what God is doing through our church.
Tim Larson, director and called pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Southfield, MI