What would William Booth say to Christians today? He’d tell them that we’re all sinners in need of God’s grace, and to get working.

Governor Rich Snyder hasn’t yet officially received the report but it’s looking more likely that the City of Detroit will be taken over by the State of Michigan.  Experts believe it’s “inevitable” that an emergency financial manager will need to take over for the city to help it avoid a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

If the state takes over, what might happen to Detroit?

  • Travel down the road to financial credibility.  The city’s current credit rating is abysmal (two months ago Moody’s again downgraded Detroit’s credit rating) and needs to improve drastically if it is going to be able to conduct business.  Detroit over the past ten years has spent one billion dollars more than it has taken in.
  • Cut even deeper into its services.  This painful topic is certain to become part of the state’s financial management.  Unions and city employees will resist, residents will suffer.  But there doesn’t seem to be an alternative.deserted Detroit
  • Deal with the reality of a smaller city.  Detroit now is a third of the size of 1950 Detroit.   A quarter of a million people have left since 2000 and by some estimates a thousand continue to leave each month.
  • Unexpected help appears …

Pastor Harvey Carey believes that Detroit churches now have an opportunity to be of real help to their city.

This weekend I heard Pastor Carey of Detroit’s Citadel of Faith Covenant Church say this several times.  His read of Detroit’s situation is that things are not going to get better if the city is depending on the resources of its government.  This is now a time for God’s people to step up to the need of Detroit.

There was a time like this when another great city declined and fell.  And when those days came it was God’s people which stepped up.  A reluctant church leader named Gregory stepped up to the needs of a city unable to deal with violence, an epidemic, care of its poor.

Gregory by default became acting leader of the city.  He restored its public safety, established food distribution, rebuilt the city’s aqueducts and defenses.

AD 590.  Rome.  Pope Gregory I.  Gregory the GreatGregory the Great

Gregory was reluctant  to accept.  Lead a crumbling city?  After his unwilling election Gregory (if nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve) wrote the emperor in Constantinople requesting that his appointment not be confirmed.  His letter was intercepted.  So he became bishop of Rome and served his city well.

Detroit and many other American cities need servant-leaders willing to serve their city well. Even men William Boothand women who are reluctant, uncertain.  Pastor Carey told us to stop whining.  Just go.  And, recalling the words of William Booth, do something.