Churches & Religious Organizations

Martin Luther King’s Last Visit to Detroit

I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job.

~Martin Luther King, June 23, 1963 Detroit, Michigan

Martin Luther King Jr, Walk to Freedom Detroit Michigan, 1963
Martin Luther King Jr, Walk to Freedom Detroit Michigan, 1963

The quotation above comes not from Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but rather from the massive Great March on Detroit (also known as the Walk to Freedom and the Freedom March) that happened 2 months earlier.

On June 23, 1963, an estimated 125,000 people marched down Detroit’s Woodward Avenue carrying placards and singing “We Shall Overcome.” National and state leaders who marched along with Reverend King included United Auto Workers president Walter Reuther, former Michigan governor John B. Swainson, and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh. The march ended at Cobo Hall where the Reverend King was cheered by thousands of marchers when he emphasized that segregation needed to end.

King called the Great March “one of the most wonderful things that has happened in America.”

You can click to read the full text of King’s speech and also hear some of the speech here and listen to some of King’s last Detroit sermon. There’s a few pictures of the march at the Detroit News including this shot of the crowd on Woodward Ave from above (sorry – no direct link scroll down and look for it). You can also get a shot of King speaking at Cobo from Wayne State University.

Holiday Giving, Reconsidered

Ernst & Young fill that kettle by kmaz
Ernst & Young fill that kettle by kmaz

In a recent conversation about how we see need in Michigan, Rob Collier President of the Council of Michigan Foundations told us about several reasons to give charitably this year.  He said, “This is an important year to give and give big because the needs are so great.  Just as importantly, the Michigan state charitable tax credits are expiring at the end of December.  These credits are available to any Michigan resident.  On your donation you get a 50% tax credit, so if an individual gives $300 then they get a $150 tax credit back.  This encourages Michiganders to support the causes they care about in their communities while while getting something back on their State of Michigan tax returns.”

You can donate in each of these three buckets:

  • Endowment funds held by Community Foundations
  • Support for Food Banks or Homeless Shelters
  • Libraries, Public TV & Radio, Colleges and Universities
Find out more about the charitable tax credit from the Community Foundation of SE Michigan, and read about the end of Michigan’s tax break for charitable aid from the Freep.

While  the holiday season is a great time to share our love, good thoughts, and Michigan-made gifts with friends & family, choosing to make donations to charities in lieu of buying gifts could be a really great way to allocate some extra funds to non-profits that desperately need it. This time of year, much of people’s hard earned money is spent on frivolous bric-a-brac that they would never buy otherwise, so why not  instead make it a charitable gift?  The American Red Cross notes that nearly four in five people would rather have a charitable donation made in their honor than receive a gift they wouldn’t use, so shifting ourselves (and our communities)  towards more meaningful giving can really bring the joy & holiday spirit back!

To maximize the benefits;  give to a tax-deductible charity for Christmas AND make it local.  We’ve compiled a list of Michigan based charities to choose from. Local money circling around our communities only strengthens our economy, as well as providing the necessary funds needed by these organizations to grow and continue to serve our communities.  A local charity gift for Christmas!   It is perfect, really. Read on for some great Michigan charities, be sure to check out our Michigan nonprofit section and add ones we’ve missed in the comments!

Detroit Remember When: The Jewish Community

Detroit Public Television has a great series called” Detroit Remember When” that looks back on the history of the Motor City. The following clip tells a little of the history of Jews in Detroit. You can buy the full DVD from Detroit Public TV and also visit the Detroit Public Television Facebook and see their YouTube channel for many more videos.

Detroit Entrepreneur Launches “Facebook for Communities”

inveiglement by TerryJohnston
inveiglement by TerryJohnston

In Q&A: Keith Zendler on Detroit’s Tipping Point, TIME magazine interviews serial entrepreneur Zendler about his newly launched It’s a free social media venture designed to serve as a kind of Facebook for governments, non-profits, foundations, service clubs, block clubs, school districts, churches, mosques, temples, etc.

Q: What is and why is it needed?

A: This is the next generation of social media. It’s great that Facebook and Twitter connects you to everyone you ever knew in the world and family members. But there is still a need for a place where leaders, organizations and the people they serve can connect to each other while working for a greater purpose. If you take all of the issues and challenges we’ve got out there, in one way or another I think it all boils down to having a “healthy” or strong community. That’s what’s been fractured here in Detroit and around the world, mainly because we’ve become so isolated from each other over the years. The idea behind is to create a network where leaders and their organizations can connect, engage and work together to impact their communities. That’s something you can believe in no matter what your faith or your politics. The key is to give people and organizations a tool that makes connecting and cooperating easy to do.

Q: What does this provide groups like the City of Detroit?

A: For leaders, it allows them to engage, mobilize and tighten up the smaller communities they already have. And they can do it in cooperation with other organizations and other communities. This way, they are all strengthened. When it comes to cities, it means that every neighborhood association, block club, business, non-profit, school, house of worship and every person can be directly connected to city hall AND EACH OTHER.

Read more at TIME.

Weird Wednesday: Giant Crucifix and In the Habit – Nun Doll Museum

linda-godfrey The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan, when Linda Godfrey gives you a sample of what’s weird in the Wolverine State. You can listen to Linda’s latest podcasts and report your own strange encounters at, follow her on Twitter at and also check out her books including Weird Michigan & Strange Michigan.

cross-in-the-woodsIf only those pesky Kentuckians hadn’t put up a 60-foot crucifix in Bardstown, the 55-foot cross at Indian River’s Cross in the Woods Shrine could still say it was the world’s biggest. Either way, its size is still awe-inspiring. The redwood cross was erected in 1954 and the cast metal Christ figure was added four years later after being shipped from Oslo, Norway. It is traditional for pilgrims to climb the 28 steps to the cross (one for each step Jesus is supposed to have climbed to stand before Pontius Pilate) on their knees.

And it’s all there in black and white – the 500+ collection of dolls and mannequins dressed to represent the garb of over 217 religious orders of priests, sisters, brothers and diocesan clergy is housed michigan-nun-museumin the basement of the shrine’s gift shop. It includes dioramas of nuns in the classroom and the all-nun orchestra.

There are also stations of the cross, a modern chapel, and a bronze statue of “The Lily of the Mohawks,” a Native American convert to Christianity in the 1600s who was known for leaving hand-made wooden crosses in forests.

Visit the official web site for The Cross in the Woods.

Photos © 2010 Linda S. Godfrey

The Skin Diver Church in Petoskey

Petoskey Crucifix by Latitude 45
Petoskey Crucifix by Latitude 45

Each year for one day in late February, a hole is chopped in the ice on Little Traverse Bay off Petoskey to allow viewing of this underwater shrine to all who have lost their lives beneath the waves. Martin, who took this photo last year, writes:

This beautiful crucifix rests four fathoms under water in Little Traverse Bay, near the breakwater beacon. Jeff, who went with me, and I debated at length

1) how many feet are in a fathom (we finally agreed on four feet since both fathom and  four begin with an “F” (its actually 6 feet), and

2) how unfathomable it is that the crucifix is four fathoms deep, since it appears to be no more than 12-16 feet deep.

This was my first time to see the crucifix, since the previous three years it was canceled due to ice conditions. later today a group of divers are going to swim down for a closer view. brrrrrrrr

You can read all about the history of the Petoskey marble crucifix on Michigan in Pictures and watch the video below to see divers in the Skin Diver Church cleaning the crucifix!

Photo Friday: With St. Anne, Church People by fotek

fotek is working on a great set of Photomatix HDR photos of St. Anne’s Church in Detroit (slideshow). He says that it’s such a beautiful church that pictures will never do it justice, but I think he may be wrong.

Some of his other sets include Detroit and Mt. Clemens and you should check out his Flickrriver too!

Tuesday’s Gifts of the Season

Pillars of the Community by Autumm
Pillars of the Community by Autumm

Crains Detroit notes that our passion for our community can influence economic growth. They link to a new study by Gallup and the Knight Foundation (that included Detroit) that explores the link between economic growth and residents’ loyalty to and passion towards where they live.

According to the “Soul of the Community” study, the qualities that make people love where they live include social offerings (such as entertainment venues and places to meet), openness (how welcoming a place is) and community aesthetics (such as physical beauty and green spaces).

…The study measured residents’ emotional connection to where they live and compared that to the communities’ GDP growth over the past five years. The findings show a significant correlation. Over three years, the researchers will analyze the trends to prove whether emotional connection drives economic growth, or the other way around.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that while demand for charitable assistance is on the rise, giving is down. They cite Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) statistics that show 71% of 300 participating organizations said demand for core services has increased over the past 12 months, while just 65% met the demands. Organizations also reported decline in financial supports.

“The state of the economy has affected nonprofits in at least two ways: It has been a reason behind increased demand, and it has played a role in decreased financial and in-kind support,” said Lisa Sommer, spokeswoman for the nonprofit association.

The MNA has a blog and on it they have a great guide that discusses how to give wisely to nonprofits this holiday season.

Simpler Times by Brian Merwin
Simpler Times by Brian Merwin

Later today, we’re going to roll our our Michigan Holiday Gift Guide. While we do think it’s a great thing to give meaningful gifts to the ones we love, we also think that this is a great time to pause and think about the whole holiday process. A nice place to start is this thoughtful article by Kristin Bull in the Freep:

When Julie Whitmore of Royal Oak peeks inside her children’s closets, overflowing with games and toys and stuff, she takes a deep breath.

She gently closes the doors.

The Whitmore children — Brandon, 10, Jacob, 8, and 4-year-old Alyssa — have plenty. No doubt, they will ask for more.

But this year, their parents realize the importance of shifting the heart of the holiday season from asking and getting to giving.

What do you think? Are you changing your holiday gift giving this season? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo Friday: Late Afternoon Sun in Michigan Pines by Heart Windows Art

Heart Windows Art (Katie) says she’s a retired art teacher who still has classes in her home and her new art center. She lives in Indian River and grew up in the Upper Peninsula.

Be sure and check the above photo out bigger. Some of her sets include Indian River, Michigan (to which this photo belongs), Easter, Mackinac Island, Mackinac Island Butterfly House and Michigan Outdoors (slideshow) or you can just dive into her Flickriver.

The rise of urban farms in Detroit

Currant harvest - get ready for jam!
Currant harvest – get ready for jam!
photo courtesy Earthworks Urban Farm

Back in August, Detroit Make It Here – a site produced by Crain’s Detroit Business that is targeted at young professionals – had an interesting article titled The urban prairie: Detroit farms connect people, food that explores the rise of urban farming in Detroit.

They quote Bill Knudson, Michigan State University agriculture economist, saying that Detroit is among the cities showing leadership with urban farming and that 100 years ago, the land beneath the city was fertile farmland. He adds that “Traditional supermarkets have moved out of the inner cities and created a food desert. These farm communities increase access to healthier food and fresh produce to inner-city people … land around Detroit has an opportunity to be productive.”

27% of this land is vacant, says Ashley Atkinson of the Greening of Detroit, a collaborative that includes 320 family and 170 community gardens for a total of 80 acres.

The collaborative, formed in 2003, grows 41 different fruits and vegetables, and has extended its season into the fall so there are multiple harvests. The yield, which last year totaled 120 tons, is sold at farmers’ markets and to restaurants and food banks, but the majority ends up on family tables, she said. Many of the volunteers live near the farms they work on.

“We have the first opportunity for our city to be food-sufficient. We’re getting there, and it’s exciting to be part of that. The rest of the country is coming awake to the fact that food of the future needs to be local and grown in urban areas, where most of the people are,” Atkinson said.

One of the organizations they highlight is the Garden Resource Program, an effort to provide hundreds of home, school and community gardens access to resources and information to grow, harvest, prepare, and preserve food for their families in their backyards and neighborhoods. They have a copious links page that highlights some other organizations at the forefront of this new urban farming wave.

One organization that is leading the way is the Earthwork Urban Farm, a program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. The Capuchin’s are inspired by the spirit of St. Francis and through Earthworks, they work to restore the connection to the environment and community. Check out their site for many more photos and lots more information.