#5) Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church

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When I was on Grand River, not far from Greater Faith for Deliverance, I saw this sign outside of a massive, gated parking lot. Initially on sight, I assumed it was for a college campus or a medical center (as these types of signs are typical at such places). When I pulled up closer, however, I read that it was for the entrance of a church parking lot.

This is the first time I can recall seeing a sign like this for a church, but I guess when you’re really big, it’s necessary?


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I immediately drove into the lot to park and take pictures, where I was greeted by the security guard in this booth.

I told him I was a blogger, and of my desire to take pictures of the church, and he was very nice and accommodating.

I parked, and took one look at the building enclosed by the gates, beyond the security booth.

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This place is ridiculously huge, situated on prime real estate in NW Goldberg, on the corner of Grand River Avenue and West Grand Boulevard (two major thoroughfares in Detroit’s west side), and not far from the Motown Museum. Churches are exempt from paying property taxes, so you know that this is precious tax revenue the city is doing without.


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Around the corner and outside of the gates, I saw these temporary reserved parking signs kept inside the church.

Apparently it’s very important for this church to have street parking on Grand River Avenue and West Grand Boulevard whenever they want it — more important than it is for you or I to have it.

I guess that enormous parking lot they have isn’t enough sometimes.


Readers, there is something I need to confess to you right now, just to get it out of the way:

I HATE BIG CHURCHES.

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You may read through this post and assume that I am being biased or negatively charged, but tell me this: why is it necessary to have a church this big?

Churches of this size are often indicative of exceedingly large (often misused) sums of money. How do you think churches like this are being built and maintained?


 

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Seeing that this church housed a Head Start program did not surprise me. I went to Matrix Head Start’s website, where on the home page it says “federally funded free education for children zero to five & families”. Head Start programs are wonderful for young children, though I always wondered why so many churches held them at their facilities.

Two words up there might have caught your eye: “federally funded”. Churches often times will hold Head Start programs at their facilities solely as a source of government revenue.

Though Head Start programs are regulated at the national and state levels of the government, apparently they aren’t as well-regulated as they ought to be. After all, they are allowing churches to use government resources (i.e., taxpayer dollars) to teach preschool-aged children. And sadly, those federal funds may not even be used in a way that truly benefits these children; not making any accusations, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some funds were funneled into construction costs, for instance.

I guess the separation of church and state means nothing, when you get down to it.


The church makes it no secret that money is what they’re after. On their website’s menu, featured prominently on the top right-hand side of the page, there is a tab entitled “Tithes & Offerings“. You can set up online offerings to be paid with a credit card! How convenient!

In addition, they make mention of their Endowment Fund. Having worked for cemeteries, I am very familiar with endowments, most commonly referred to in the industry as “perpetual care”. Basically it ensures financial security for years to come, which is particularly vital to maintain all operations in the future, especially once all business operations have ceased.

OR, as the church says on their website:

“The Endowment Fund is created and exists solely for charitable purposes of the Church and for insuring the long-term financial security of the Church. Its principal objectives are two-fold: 1: to increase parishioner awareness of the long-term financial needs of our church, and 2) to lay the groundwork to sustain our church in perpetuity.”

^ Two things that are terribly wrong with that statement:

  1. Your church will sustain itself by maintaining a strong parishioner base, NOT by groveling to make the parishioners aware of future financial needs. Worry about your present needs by being above and beyond reproach. Act with integrity and use your funds wisely. Stop trying to nickel and dime your parishioners, or anyone who even goes to your website, because it is very off-putting. Maybe even consider downsizing for financial reasons, if nothing else, because no church needs to be this bigOtherwise, there will be no need for your church to be kept in perpetuity.
  2. I believe the word you were looking for was “ensuring”. Not “insuring”, like what some of your parishioners probably need to do for their cars and houses, but can’t because they’re strapped trying to pay to keep your church’s over-sized ass in operation. It’s a shame that with all of this money in your coffers, you couldn’t hire someone competent to proofread your web content. If I wasn’t so repulsed by everything I have seen from your church thus far, I would’ve offered to do it for free.

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Totally absolutely biblical? I don’t know about all that… I will make that determination when I sit in on one of your services in the not-so-distant future.

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#3) Morning View Baptist Church

I was driving on Grand River, close to downtown Detroit, on Monday afternoon with my phone battery at 15%. Despite being so underprepared, I was able to take pictures of four churches I saw between I-94 and Virginia Park Street. Morning View Baptist Church is the first one I snapped pictures of, and the third church I am adding to my list overall.

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Morning View Baptist Church is at the corner of Grand River and Lawton, in Detroit’s NW Goldberg neighborhood. Upon first sight, I had no idea if it was still in operation. Granted, the building does not look blighted at all, yet not a single vehicle was parked on either side of the parking lot.

Granted, this was a Monday around 2:00pm, but nothing. No car for the pastor. No vans or buses. NOTHING. Fortunately, I used Google to aid me in figuring out this mystery.

Their website lists their ministry schedule, which is very limited. They only offer services on Sundays and Tuesdays. But even an active website can be misleading, as I’ve seen websites still running for businesses that are now defunct. But often times, where Google’s help ends, social networking takes over.

Their unofficial Facebook page shows that people checked in for services as recently as this past Sunday, thereby proving that it is still active. However, there were two things I noticed wrong on this page:

  1. The website added to the page’s contact information leads to another Morning View Baptist Church. Digging through the website, you’ll find that this church is located in Rockmart, Georgia. Not a big surprise; the pictures of the church sitting atop a hill and their old white pastor were a dead giveaway.
  2. For this lady’s anonymity, I will not state her name, but as a member of the church, she posted a review to the error-riddled Facebook page with some delightful errors of her own. She stated that “Pastor Carr jr. Be on point with his sermons” and that “everyone there show ginuwine love”.

Admittedly, I don’t always use proper grammar, conversationally or in writing. It’s not because I don’t know any better, but simply because I’m not that anal about it anymore. Case in point: I will mix up current and past tenses all the time (especially via text messaging). This is partly because I hate texting and am usually rushing to send out long, wordy messages… and partly because LSD maybe just slightly messed with my sense of time and reality (and gave my friends in Pittsburgh a bunch of funny little stories that I’ll never live down).

But misspelling “genuine”?! Come on! “Ginuwine” is a singer… or was. I don’t think he’s doing anything now. Since he’s a DMV native like myself, I should probably know more.

And for those of you that don’t know about Ginuwine, I’ll leave this here for you. You’re so very welcome.

 

 

 

#2) Synagogue Baptist Church

I was driving around on the east side running errands one day earlier this week when I saw this church*. Often times I cannot stop to take pictures of each church I see, but the second I saw this one, I did a not-so-legal U-turn in the middle of the street to snap a couple of pictures. It wasn’t due to any stately religious statuary, or any ornate architectural features, as this church possesses none of those things. What it does possess, however, is a religiously incorrect name.

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That raised a red flag for me, not only as the best friend of a Jew, but as someone with at least an elementary grasp of other religions. But where all else fails, the dictionary comes in handy. Merriam-Webster defines synagogue as “a building that is used for Jewish religious services”. In other words, the total opposite of a building for Baptist services.

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^ This picture was admittedly taken from an awkward angle from inside my car, but it is crucial to state this next point. The people of Synagogue Baptist Church placed the phrase “JESUS SAVES” next to their incorrect/ironically named church’s sign… never mind the fact that people of the Jewish faith do not accept Jesus as the messiah. So, if you go to a real synagogue, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone there who believes that Jesus saves anyone. It’s simply not part of the Jewish ideology.

This is an active church, as evidenced by their website. Their pastor is celebrating 30 years of service this month. In 30 years time, has anyone ever discussed the name of this church with the pastor? This is a question that will hopefully get an answer once I start researching all of these churches in-depth! I will update this post accordingly!

*Doing a search of this address has come up with results as both Detroit and Highland Park. I have found this to be the case for other addresses in this area and in Hamtramck, as both of these small cities are encapsulated within the large, sprawling metropolis of Detroit. Because of this, I will also include profiles for churches in Highland Park and Hamtramck.