A new mission

Maybe you know me, maybe you don’t. I really don’t matter in this matter.

You might remember about what happened a decade ago: a reunion and an interfaith service at 13600 Van Dyke that brought Shield of Faith and Holy Name together in hopes of a neighborhood revival. I will always call it a miracle because only God could have made it so perfect.

On the other hand, the neighborhood revival has, to date, been a bust. Yes, by the grace of God, we’ve managed to keep the park in the area, Fletcher Field, clean, cut and open for business for the kids who live there now for more than 10 years.

But, at least to me, what took place at the church on March 30, 2008, seemed bigger than just the park. It made me feel like the whole doggone neighborhood would be resurrected … in as little as three days.

Believers know that the will of God is often different than our own will, and — for whatever His reasoning — the very church building where that miracle took place nearly 10 years ago is in peril. Shield of Faith could no longer handle the financial burden of the campus and left the premises in early November. Earlier this week, it was reported that some folks had breached the church doors and were taking stuff from inside the building.

I don’t exactly know what to do about it. But something is tugging at my heart, saying this must be stopped. It’s God’s house; it’s Holy Name’s and Shield of Faith’s legacy; the building has the potential to help the very souls currently stealing from it.

Now, I know there will be naysayers, just like there were when we started rebuilding Fletcher Field in the summer of 2007. There will be finger-pointing … us versus them, city versus suburbs, white versus black … all the old baggage that keeps us from achieving what God has truly envisioned for us.

In response to the naysayers, here’s something I wrote in February 2009:


The sorrow in the church felt like it had substance, the ability to penetrate you like a flesh-eating virus. It emanated from every pew, from every corner of the building. Even the beautiful stained-glass windows lacked their usual luster during the funeral service for Deacon Charlie Tom Cranford.

On this day, the windows of Shield of Faith seemed to tone themselves down in respect, like a flag at half mast, saying that this man’s death had left a great void in the world — one that likely never would be filled.

I experienced that same intense sadness about four months ago at a funeral service for another deacon, Raymond Lubien. Hearts were just as heavy at Temrowski Funeral Home that night in mid-October, when “sorry for your loss” just didn’t cut it.

Oddly enough, Deacon Lubien and Deacon Cranford — more than a decade apart — held similar positions at 13600 Van Dyke. Deacon Lubien watched over the buildings of Holy Name until it closed in 1990. Deacon Cranford did so in the Shield of Faith era of the campus, almost right up until the day he died.

The two men also played roles in the interfaith service at SOF last March. Deacon Lubien helped plan the service and then joined the clergy on the altar on March 30. Deacon Cranford kept watch over us from outside the church, driving up and down Doyle and Nuernberg in his van with the yellow light on top, making sure we — and our vehicles — stayed safe all afternoon.

Sadly, to the best of my knowledge, Deacon Lubien and Deacon Cranford never met, had the opportunity to talk about all the things they had in common — including being loved by so many.

Well, I’m pretty sure they finally got that chance last week — in a place where loved people of all color, creed and eras come together — and are watching over us tonight.

Still, we’re left to wonder what the neighborhood around the church might be like if the talent and passion of these two men had come together 30 years ago.

You want to fix Detroit? Do everything in your power to bring people together before it’s too late.

We will meet at the church on Friday at 4 p.m. to pray for its resurrection and for God’s wisdom on how to make it happen. I hope you decide to join us and be part of the solution.

May God bless you! — Michael