Friday, June 7, 2013

A Hearty Hug for Detroit

Marge Hallman of  East Point, Michigan enjoys a hearty hug after eight decades of living her life well, she says.

Detroit got a huge hug from cheerleaders the other day.

Civic leaders, including clergy and the interfaithful, gathered at the iconic Focus:HOPE that was founded by the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis in the late '60s when Detroit erupted in riots.

Among the Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders was 36th District Court Judge Brenda Sanders and senior editor of The Michigan Chronicle, Bankole Thompson.  He addressed "Civic Responsibility and Detroit's Future."

A series of "speak up" sessions have been held in the metropolitan Detroit area since Summer, 2011. They aim to support Detroit in its crisis.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed in the clergy," confessed Thompson, referring to religious leaders and their lack of willingness to step up to the plate.  The activist speaker and cheerleader for Detroit received a rousing round of applause following his speech of twenty minutes.

Responders to Thompson's talk included the Rev. David Kasbow of Unification, Pastor Sidney Griffin of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Detroit, Rabbi Dorit Edut who has ties to Isaac Agree Downtown Temple,  and, Imam Abdullah El-Amin of the Detroit Muslim Center.  He urged education about each faith tradition's teaching to prevent misunderstanding and lessen tensions in the area.

Mark Shifflett of Waterford, MI., attended with his mother, Joan Shifflett who resides in Sterling Heights, MI.  Shiffletter persisted in telling participants that "Detroit needs to pick up its litter."

El-Amin agreed.

"We can all do that!"

Dozens of faithful cheered Detroit in Roseville at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on December 5, 2011, including Rabbi Mordehai Waldman of Oak Park, Roseville State Representative Harold Haugh, Mohamed Abbass of the American-Islamic Community Center in Madison Heights, Center Line resident Paul Domenick, and Fraser resident Al Bileti.

Organizers claimed that Detroiters and suburbanites could do "a better job of following Jesus' to love one another," said Sandra Bell of the Inclusive Communities Uniting (ICU) another planner of the session Thursday, with Care of the Soul Companions All Faiths Festival. 

The groups promoted support for their Declaration for Life urging an end to conflict and division in and outside the womb, and a Macomb County Community Marriage Policy that aims to strengthen families, and, those in crisis.

"This was an enthusiastic and explosive gathering that ignited us at Focus:HOPE, pulling together clergy in revitalizing Detroit starting now," shouted Pastor Sidney Griffin, a longtime supporter of Detroit.

Griffin, a vocal and assertive pastor for over four decades is set to host the same group on July 25 at 11:45 am.  A proposed "peaceful bridge-building walk along  Van Dyke at Eight Mile up to Toepher into Warren is scheduled for August 22nd, according to Griffin.

Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts are invited, along with their city councils, and other civic leaders, including churches of all faith traditions, planners said.

Although officials from Detroit did not attend the meeting, Director of Community Relations, Frazier Kimpson participated in the meeting two years ago.  At that meeting, he said:  "I think the church community is going to have to pull us all together."

Kevin Orr, a bankruptcy attorney, is the emergency manager for Detroit. He's meeting with creditors and unions these days trying to avert Detroit's bankruptcy.

A picnic at the historic Belle Isle Park in Detroit is set for August 11th.  Hundreds attended last summer at the park that the State of Michigan want to take over.  The City of Detroit resisted, however.

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