While we are definitely not a building centered ministry, there is a beautiful old church less than a mile away that I dream about as a worship space & community center. Getting it would require the same power that divided the Red Sea! The place needs much work & would cost a lot to restore. (Any millionaires out there want to pony up?;) Since arriving last fall this dilapidated church building has been boarded up, but currently a movie is being shot on sight and yesterday we were finally able to get inside . (For you film aficionados the movie is based on James Patterson’s novel I, Alex Cross and stars Tyler Perry.)
As I walked through this building that has stood at 8501 Woodward Avenue since 1911, I was struck by two things. (Well, actually three things when you include the ultimate fighting cage set up on the sanctuary floor for one of the movie scenes.) I noticed an old church covenant on the wall, recording the church’s commitment to itself and it’s community. And later Clete showed me an old church registry notating the death of several members in the 1930’s & 1940’s as if it happened yesterday. You can see the covenant & the registry in the pictures below. As I walked through this old facility these questions came to mind: How many people worshiped here through the years? Who were they? In what ways was Jesus lifted up & lives transformed in these ministries? How many songs echoed through those rafters and sermons sounded across the large auditorium? And then there were darker questions: Was the church ever integrated or did it go from a white congregation to a black congregation over night? Why does a church no longer meet there? Why is the original congregation (Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church) like the seven churches of Revelation, dead and buried under the dust of time?
In glory I will worship with some of the saints who worshiped in this building. And maybe before then I’ll be able, like them, to worship in this building. It’s worth praying about! But far more than that I pray that Jesus will save, transform, & delight scores & scores of people who live in the neighborhood around that old building. Buildings crumble but life in Christ is forever!
The pictures are from yesterday’s movie shooting, from places right around the building, & – I couldn’t resist – from Tuesday night’s Tigers’ game (we were on the 3rd row!). You can find a beautiful pictorial history of the church here. Finally, at the bottom there is a 20 second video of a recent tour inside the building.