The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that while Ladder 22 responded to a fire on Dundee near Grand River someone stole their saws.

I’m certain that was the fire which burned down the building dedicated in 1928 for use by The Salvation Army as the Detroit Temple Corps. It is the building that I worked in and from more than four years as we planned for and saw a new building go up on West Chicago just west of Dexter to replace it.

Miracle of miracles, a Nigerian businessman bought that old building from the Army. Young people in the neighborhood would bring us the latest news on what it was being used for. Not particularly noble uses.

And now, from what I am hearing (thank you for your report, Artee Lewis) it is pretty much gone.

I’m sorry, Detroit Fire Department. You face more challenges than is fair. Especially around Halloween and the dramatic duality played out each year of Devils Night/Angels Night. People setting fires. People trying to prevent fires.

While fighting the fire on Dundee Street someone stole your saws. It’s happened to you before. Might again. Hope not.

It’s burnt down?

One reader of Intersections sent a note today, that it had completely burnt down.  Rex Dame happened to be driving by and saw it completely engulfed in flames.  Some folks in the neighborhood think it was arson since there was another major fire across the street two days before.

It is our old Temple building in Detroit.  Which I describe something of in the love of life in quiet Detroit.

I have mixed feelings.  What good was it to anyone?  Abandoned in diminishing dignity.  But, the people who came there, young guys who played in the warped floor-board gym with water dripping or gushing from its ceiling, down its walls, freezing during the winter.  The staff who froze, and then in the summers sweltered.  The young kindergarten boy who came to our programs, who then one morning at home did a strange little jig and dropped dead.  The young people who crowded the building for activities, programs, just to hang out.  Teens and adults from Royal Oak Corps who came to help clean that nasty alley running north from behind the Temple.  Steve Diaz brought them.  Our cook, Mary, working in our woeful basement kitchen.  And the men and women and children who walked down those worn steps to eat a hot meal.

Buildings do have meaning, regardless of their grandeur or their grittiness.  They have meaning because of those who abide.  Our guests.  Our family.  Who are my brothers and sisters, my mother, my father?  I simply look at the building, and there they are.  As I remember.Dundee  4 13 2013 c

They’ll make you answer a question.  Go ahead.  So you can read more about Father Dunne and his Newsboy Home.

The building at 3010 W. Washington in St Louis is no longer the Newsboy Home.  This past week Gail and I snuck around workmen, fresh paint to see the former Newsboy Home/former Harbor Light now becoming what we are calling (unofficially) 3010.

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Part of the remodeling includes keeping as much as possible the building’s past.  The chapel retains original floor tile and many other features.

Such as the stained glass windows.  When we walked into the chapel a workman offered to show us the newly arrived renovated windows.  He unwrapped one and set it out for us to admire.

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The windows will soon be re-installed.  Lovely.

The Post-Dispatch says that The Salvation Army is remodeling the building into apartments.  More to the story.

The apartments will provide affordable housing for men and women, many who will be or have been in the Army’s treatment programs.  The apartments will provide a place, home.

And 3010’s existence in the city means that there will be a place in the city for those who in many American cities are being pushed out by economic realities.  It’s just too expensive.  Because it’s become just too lucrative to not develop properties for upper-middle and higher income folks.  Chicago’s Lincoln Park, etc.  Will it happen in St Louis?  It will if there is no will to make a place for those who are easily squeezed out.  Out to the edges, to the margins.

Salvation Army has been creating places in St Louis for affordable housing.  Railton Residence.  Veterans Residence.  Now, 3010.  And plans for further developments.

Why?  Because cities do not become full, complete places by homogenizing their economic landscape.  A city’s economy cannot offer a rich urban experience with only the rich.  The rich only become poorer.

When the Army’s co-founder William Booth envisioned salvation for the world he saw more than a religious compartment of human life.  Life also means having a place, a decent place, in this world.  This world so loved by God.

Sunday morning in St Louis we rolled up to this sign.  It’s at the exit from eastbound I-64/US40 at Kingshighway.  It’s a place that often has a man or woman collecting.  This morning no one there.  Just a sign.

October 5 2014 (7)The light turned and we headed north to Euclid Corps, a Salvation Army neighborhood center in north St Louis.   We enjoyed our morning worship with the corps.

October 5 2014 (9)October 5 2014 (3)October 5 2014 (4)Sunday evening we were in south St Louis with the Temple House community.  Sara is leading us now in Don Miller’s Storyline.  In a few weeks I will lead a study of the Gospel of Luke.  Any day now a copy of Joel Green’s great little book on the theology of Luke should arrive.  It will be among material to guide us in seeing the gospel’s place for marginalized persons through Luke’s lens.  Our cities need Christians who also see those who are marginalized, on the fringes.  I hope our study helps us become more seeing in this way.

photo 3 (2)Cheryl, John S. and Elysia.

We also said our goodbyes to John S. who left St Louis this morning, returning to Colorado to be with his family.  For a time.  John’s a multi-talented person.  His plans are to be in the city.  Which city?  He’s yet to decide.  We will miss John S.  In his honor we all went over to the Texas Street house and in solidarity joined him to watch an episode of his favorite show:  Dr. Who.  Darren threw for the chips and guacamole.

John S. was with us a year, as a City Vision College student and intern.  He’s among two recent Temple Houses departures.  The other John left last month for Nashville.  John Aho (our son) has had the longest stay at Temple Houses.  Was the first.  Came alone.  Now there’s a flourishing community of young men and women living near the St Louis Temple Corps on Arsenal Street.

John A. with Kyle D.

John A. with Kyle D.

Temple Houses now has three openings.  Are you a young adult?  Looking for a missional community in the city?  Check out Temple Houses.


A few photos from last Friday night and Saturday morning at the Melvin on Chippewa Street in St Louis.  We were there for a young adult retreat sponsored by the Salvation Army.

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Cory in front of the Melvin

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004Duluth at dawn a few weeks ago.  An urbanized frame for early morning over Lake Superior.

Bonhoeffer opens his Ethics with a question, and it is not ‘what is the good I can do’, nor ‘how can I be good’, but rather ‘what is God’s will?’

This morning I am sitting around a large round table in a Salvation Army building a couple hundred feet from the Potomac River, a few miles from the Capitol.  Early in the morning, the view is beautiful.  The Capitol, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial.  All beautiful.

These are images as well as real stone structures.  They represent structures of power.

So, then, what is God’s will?

Iris read text after text from the Old Testament.  Psalms, Amos, Isaiah.  Isaiah 61.

This is the will of God.  And if I may sum it all up, Micah 6:8.

I am now sitting in a semi-dark room.  It is early morning and soon I will need to be on the move again down the road in Missouri.  One further consideration in the ethics thought of yesterday.

The prophet Micah says to do, to love and to walk.  Justice, kindness, and only humbly with God.

Again, Bonhoeffer.  Much deeper in his Ethics -

“Love … is the reality of being drawn and drawing others into an event, namely, into God’s community with the world, which has already been accomplished in Jesus Christ.  ‘Love’ does not exist as an abstract attribute of God but only in God’s actual loving of human beings and the world.”

This being drawn into an event will be presented as metanoia, repentance, in Bonhoeffer’s prison writings.  It is a repentance, a turning to others in this world.  Others unjustly, unkindly walked over.  The will of God is to turn as did Christ to join in His community to do and walk as Prophet Micah said.

During the past two weeks I have been having a Mark Twain experience.

Punch, Brothers, Punch! describes Mark Twain’s experience of an ear-worm.  In the newspaper he happens to read a jingle -

Conductor, when you receive a fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!


Punch, brothers! punch with care!
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

He cannot get it out of his head. It tortures him for days.  Freedom comes only when he shares it with a friend, who then infected is also doomed until …

You hear some simple tune, and then you can’t stop it in your head.  Last year visiting Turkey with a group of friends it was the song Istanbul (Not Constantinople).   Andrew Shiels, you know what I mean.

For several days now a sentence scrolls into my consciousness.  Not banal, if anything it’s one that challenges me.

The church is the place where Jesus Christ’s taking form is proclaimed and where it happens.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer ends the second chapter of his Ethics with this statement.  It distills the preceding 26 pages in which Bonhoeffer develops an understanding of the role ethics plays in forming those human beings who follow Jesus Christ.

Several pages earlier he writes -

We can and should speak not about what the good is, can be, or should be for each and every time, but about how Christ may take form among us today and here.

The current top news item bringing anxiety to us this week in the USA deals with a movement of individuals who want to shape the world into their preferred future.

It is because they have lost hope about being able to have a place in this world.  They perceive the present world’s economic, socio-political and technological power out of their hands.  So, they turn to religion.  A religion which will overcome, take over and then form a world to its vision.  Those who oppose are dealt with violently.

It’s not an ear-worm but it does haunt me, Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums. Read it. It comes humming into my memory as I read news of the Western world’s campaign gearing up now in the land of Abraham. Davis’ prophetic analysis of a world of growing disparities seems to form a counterpoint to our growing awareness that all is not well with all.

Just before Bonhoeffer’s statement, that Christ is formed in the church to be proclaimed and found in the church, he gives a disclaimer for the ethics about to be presented. That it “will not develop a program for the formation of the Western world.”

But it will speak of how the form of Christ takes form in this Western world.

Bonhoeffer then explains how this fine distinction must prevent the church from a casuistic or an abstract formation for itself or for a place it has no business telling what its business is:  the world.

As I said, I am still working at grasping the full value of Bonhoeffer’s challenging statement.  And as I know that the claims on the world by a violent movement alarm us in the USA, so too should any claims we may hear about a world claimed as if it were some Christian trophy. Formed by those who make such claims.


From Kneebone and Berube of the Brookings Institution.

In 2011, the suburban poor outnumbered the urban poor by three million; from 2000 to 2011, the number of poor people soared by 64 percent in the suburbs, compared with 29 percent in cities. Today nearly one-third of all Americans are poor or nearly poor. One in three poor Americans live in the suburbs. If you’re poor in the Seattle, Atlanta or Chicago regions, you’re more likely than not living outside the city limits.

Check out the rest of their op-ed in the New York Times.

Groan. I am setting up another social media account.  Livestream.  

Just because I wanted to see what a person needs to go through to be able to follow tomorrow evening’s Alan Talks from the Urban Mission Center in St Louis.

Alan Roxburgh arrives in town in an hour.  About the time I’ll be pulling up near Union Station to pick up Andres Villatoro from his Megabus ride.  Alan, Andres and about two dozen others will meet tomorrow and Saturday for the UMC Design Days.  7:00 PM (CDT) tomorrow night Alan will present for 90 minutes in the St Louis Temple Corps chapel.  You are welcome to join us for this Design Days session open to the public.

I am grouchy about these things.  But I’ll admit that Livestream wasn’t too hard.  I did it.  

So, if you can’t be in St Louis Friday night, or just want to tune in on some of the Design Days activity, Livestream.  I might photobomb Alan.



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