#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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#1) Kindred Ministries (inactive)

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Before I go into this post, I want to apologize for being a day late! I had to prepare for today, which consisted of volunteer work and a documentary premiere at Detroit Institute of Art. It’s been a lot of fun with some great new friends. But, more on that later!

The first church I am profiling is just around the corner from my house, which makes it the obvious first selection. You can see it from my yard. Though in past decades, the view most likely would’ve been obstructed by other homes, fences, and trees. Also, the focal point of said view wouldn’t have even been a church at all, but rather an elementary school and playground. And a very large one at that, taking up an entire city block solely on its own, bordered by Westwood, Acacia, Grandville, and Kendall.

The Peter Vetal School was an elementary school in Detroit’s Westwood Park neighborhood. It opened in 1924, at a time when the entire city was thriving. Yet, as the city declined, so did the school and the neighborhood it was encapsulated in. In 2011, the school closed, along with many others in Detroit. From what my neighbors have told me, Peter Vetal School was an anchor for the neighborhood; even as the area faced a slew of issues (drugs, prostitution, blight, etc.), it was at least hanging by a thread, tied firmly to the school. And once DPS shut Vetal School’s doors for good, that thread snapped. However, there was briefly a glimmer of hope for this massive school and the massive void its closure created in the community: Kindred Ministries.

A couple of years after the school closed, Pastor Keith Hill purchased the vacant building from Detroit Public Schools, and thus Kindred Ministries was born. His intent was to hold his sermons in the auditorium, using the rest of the behemoth structure as a trade school for the community. He even went ahead and erected a sign for the church outside. And that’s when scrappers broke in and wreaked havoc on the building. Due to extensive water damage to the inside of the building (thanks to the assholes<s> thieves<s> scrappers who flooded the building when he ripped out the building’s sprinkler system), the building cannot currently be inhabited, and would require an ungodly sum of money to repair. Though Kindred Ministries is obviously not holding any services here, Pastor Hill and Friends of Vetal School still hold out hope that the building will one day be restored for use as a vocational school and place of worship.

As a homeowner in Detroit, specifically in this neighborhood, I can see firsthand the dire need for hands-on job training for young adults in the community. Reading stories of this tragedy not only makes my heart go out to Pastor Keith Hill, or my blood boil at the despicable theft that somehow gets a pass in Detroit… it makes me sick. It hurts seeing how people with big hearts and good intentions can lose to those who selfishly and carelessly hasten the downturn of their own communities. I hate that stealing from others is seen as a justifiable source of income by some in this area. And above all, I hate that the depravity and short-sightedness of these thieves has only worsened this already gaping void in the neighborhood.

Scrappers, I hope the few hundred dollars or so you got at the scrap yard was worth the several thousands of dollars in property damage, the sleepless nights Pastor Hill and his family must have endured, AND the continued generations of poverty that can stem from a bunch of unskilled people who are broke and jobless in an area that requires skills and/or an education. It’s a shame you just couldn’t wait to see if Pastor Hill and his school could’ve taught you a thing or two about how to make an honest living.

For the sake of my community, I stand alongside Pastor Keith Hill and the Friends of Vetal School in the hope that this will one day come into fruition.

Kindred Ministries: church number one out of many in the city of Detroit. Stay tuned for the ever increasing count.

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^ If the story of Kindred Ministries and the Peter Vetal School wasn’t so devastating, I totally would’ve based this whole post on how the opposite side of their sign says “Kindren” rather than Kindred. When driving past this building, I usually drive past this side of the sign, which annoys me to no end. But I am not that petty. And this is one instance where there are much bigger things at stake than spelling errors and nonexistent words.