(Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/Files)
Dozens of church leaders met in Detroit yesterday for the Reviving Detroit Summit led by the men's ministry organization, Promise Keepers, with the purpose to discuss solutions to improve the city's spiritual, social and economic issues.
The summit was organized soon after the city filed for bankruptcy in July, citing debt of over $18 billion, making it the largest municipality in U.S. history to do so. Leaders focused on this issue as well as creating racial reconciliation within the city, and focused on Detroit's greater lack of Christianity as the root cause of all its problems.
"The economic issues the city is facing are symptoms of a greater problem – the spiritual collapse of the city," said David Jesse, vice president of Field Operations for Promise Keepers. "Primary issues are racial division that has been exacerbated and inflamed by the advancement of radical Islam in Detroit, starting with the Nation of Islam in the 1960s and then the movement toward orthodox Islam in the late 1970s and early 1980s."
Former Muslim Brotherhood terrorist and current international speaker, Kamal Saleem, addressed the group of pastors to share how the radical Islam agenda is deeply rooted within Detroit, and how only the love of Jesus can heal this division. He said the primary method by which radical Islam infiltrated the city was through meeting the felt needs of the poor. He added that people became vulnerable once their needs were met, making it easy to be receptive to a moderate form of Islam that eventually became radicalized.
Dr. Raleigh B. Washington, president and CEO of Promise Keepers, also spoke during the event and noted that 40 percent of African-American men in Detroit are sympathetic and supportive, if not even fully embracing, of Islam. According to Washington, the only way to combat Islam's rise is for the church in Detroit to move beyond its comfort zone and into real racial reconciliation.
"The first strategy being implemented is to see black, white, rich, poor, urban and suburban Christian leaders come together in lasting relationship, so that the city becomes united spiritually," said Jesse.
During the event, pastors were given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the city's deteriorating situation with both black and white leaders expressing their desire to participate in the revival that they hope will bring lasting change to Detroit. They also instituted a steering committee during the meeting that will handle the funds raised by Promise Keepers throughout the country for Detroit's improvement.
"[Funds] will be used for empowerment programs within the most devastated communities in Detroit [including] education, job training, crisis pregnancy programs and fatherhood development programs," said Jesse.
The group plans to continue holding meetings within the next 18 months to continue their efforts in reviving Detroit's spiritual condition. Pastor Derrick Gay from Sanford, Fla., commissioned the pastors of Detroit to "take the baton" and lead the nation in real reconciliation and revival after the same strategy was implemented in Sanford following the Trayvon Martin case.
"While the world waited for riots to break out after the not-guilty verdict, none ever took place in Sanford, and this is because the pastors left the initial meeting that Promise Keepers brokered 17 months ago," said Jesse. "They committed to building cross-cultural relationships, and to stand in the spiritual authority they have as pastors in that community."
Jesse hopes the same can happen within Detroit – a revitalization that comes to fruition by continuing the momentum generated by yesterday's meeting, noting that the efforts put forth by Promise Keepers is the catalyst that will ultimately bring change to the city.