St. Stephen's Suburban/ Urban Partnership
While exploring for an urban/suburban partnership in 2011, St. Stephen's identified a new Lutheran mission called Grace in Action. Its leader, Pastor John Cummins, wondered what “church” could be like if started from scratch. His Synod gave him seed money to find out in Southwest Detroit, a Hispanic neighborhood where about 75% of the residents are of Mexican heritage, many with limited English ability.
Pastor John had no church, building, regular services or mission partners. His first venue was a “jam session” at a local café. It became a “community gathering,” and other initiatives followed such as English and citizenship classes.
We visited the area, and Pastor John preached to our congregation. From that seed, we connected, and
- Helped obtain an Episcopal grant for materials for a youth-designed and painted mural. This project helped mission-area kids openly discuss their identities. The mural depicts Mexico and Detroit connected by a large tree with children in its branches. It represents the two worlds in the kids’ neighborhood with their generation caught in between;
- Donated guitars and other instruments for youth lessons;
- Donated backpacks filled by our VBS kids with school supplies for mission kids;
- Attended their Youth Celebration and were moved by the mural, camaraderie and young boys singing and playing donated guitars;
- Are supporting them as they apply for an Episcopal grant to create a mosaic;
- Provided $1,500 to expedite renting a building for their growing programs;
- Joined in the clean-up and painting day at the new Grace in Action building
We are so excited that God presented this opportunity to connect, work, pray, laugh, and share in this awesome Grace in Action project!
you are welcome here
So, then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
St. Stephen's Troy & Grace in Action
Suburban/ Urban Faith Partnership
THE MURAL CREATION STORY - by Pastor John Cummins
We wanted to create a youth-driven and youth-envisioned mural and began by asking the youth to draw images of what messages they wanted to convey to their neighborhood. We were amazed at the detail and passion behind those initial images that we got back - hands, a beautiful tree, a bridge, etc. So we called those first youth together to begin designing the mural, meeting at the local community center at Clark Park.
It was right around then that a local art teacher, Eva Leventer, heard about what we were doing, and got really excited about it. She started volunteering her time to work with the youth on designing the mural. Also, a high school art teacher from Western High School got wind of our project too, and soon she was volunteering her time after school as well. It quickly became a project that the larger community felt ownership over.
After creating the design for the mural, we moved our operation to a the space of a local after school program at Latino Family Services, a local non-profit that was excited about our vision and was willing to donate a wall for us to create the mural on. the youth quickly took ownership of the space, making it their own.
We became not just an after-school art project, but a community one as well. When one youth or another ran into hard times or a difficult situation, we would all join together in supporting and encouraging that person. The youth involved became good friends through this project.
After about 8 months in the making, we finished the mural this past December. In April 2012, there will be an opening in which the youth will present their work to the larger community. The message of the mural is about embracing your culture, heritage, and personal story. The youth created an image of Mexico on one side, and an image of Detroit on the other, which a large tree sprouting up in between.
In the branches of the tree are little children. This image conveys the combination of two worlds in our neighborhood - Latin America and Detroit - and how the new generation growing up here is caught between those two worlds, with one foot in each as they develop their own identity.
Backpacks filled by St. Stephen's Troy VBS kids with school supplies for the Grace in Action mission
Grace in Action moved into their new facility and hosted a cleaning, fixing and painting day. St. Stephen's youth and adults participated, had a great time, and were a bit sore the next day.