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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Open for worship 154 years ago today - Rector's Rambling for November 17, 2013

One-hundred-fifty-four years ago today, November 17, the chapel of St. John’s was dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, and officially began her offering of public worship on both Sundays and weekdays.
It is hard to imagine that this part of Detroit was “out in the country”, with this particular corner being an apple orchard when purchased in April of 1858 by Henry Porter Baldwin, founder and patriarch of this parish.  Before he called together his neighbors in December to propose starting a new parish, he had purchased this land, and had commissioned plans for a chapel, a church, and a rectory.  When he invited that group of people into his home (then located where I-75 is now, across Woodward from the church), he already had plans and was looking for supporters for the project that came to fruition as St. John’s, of which we are inheritors.
Much has changed in our 154 years!  The neighborhood has gone from orchards to Victorian mansions, to shops and warehouses and theatres, to derelict and dilapidated.  Thankfully, in the past 20 years, the neighborhood has and continues to go through an economic renewal.  Detroit has and does continue to change (it was 50 years after St. John’s founding that the Model T Ford was put into production).  Liturgically, this parish has alternated from High Church Prayer Book Catholic (first 70 years), to Low Church (next 70), and is now restored again.
But through all the chances and changes outside and inside of St. John’s, one thing has not changed: our adherence to the Christian Faith as the Anglican Communion has believed from her founding.  This was emphasized at the laying of the cornerstone of the church.
We thank God that we shall be permitted to leave to our successors, not this building only, wherein the truth of God may be proclaimed, but the stronger and more enduring building of the Church, made at the first, “the Pillar and Ground of the Truth”, and now its best preservation and defense.