Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Big news for Detroit City Episcopalians coming in February

Today, the Detroit Area Deanery Clericus met at St. John's. Present were 10 priests/deacons and the Bishop of the Diocese. After a light-hearted discussion about our various adventures negotiating the Detroit City Government and its various code inspectors, we began an ernest discussion about the parishes in the City. There are 17 parishes in the Detroit City proper. On any given Sunday just over 50% of the attendance in Churches in the City are at 3 of those 17 (which includes St. John's). If you include a fourth parish, that accounts for 2/3 of all Episcopalians in the city. Which means 1/3 is spread among the other 13 parishes.

A big meeting is planned for all Detroit City Parish clergy, vestry and laymembers in February to discuss/announce changes to how we do ministry in the City. The Bishop is holding his cards close to his pectoral cross, but one would guess that there will be an attempt at closings and consolidations. St. John's, having nearly quintupled its Sunday attendance in the past 5 years seems safe from closing or being consolidated. But many congregations, particularly the smaller ones tucked into residential neighborhoods without parking, endowments, or easy freeway access (for suburbanites to join in the worship and ministry), will find themselves in a further difficult position of paying for increased heating bills for sometimes fewer than 10 people in the pews on Sunday! Yet in these neighborhoods there are upwards of a dozen storefront Missionary Baptist and Church of God in Christ churches packed with people. Some try to blame the difference on music or liturgy, but could it be that we are doing THEOLOGY all wrong in attracting people from the neighborhoods into Church?

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