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The Heseders are planning a trip this summer to Detroit! We would love for you to join us for a week of serving at LCMS’s newest Camp Restore base. Watch the bulletin, as we will be advertising the dates soon. This letter from the camp director outlines some projects we will be doing while there:

The work assigned to your group will depend on the status/needs of projects in progress at the time of your arrival, and, to some extent, on the gifts of your particular group (licensed construction workers and those with other specialized training could obviously serve in ways others could not). However, I can share with you some of the possibilities!

Mary leads a community service nonprofit with projects assisting homeowners in Detroit. She began her ministry with flood assistance and soon discovered that follow-up assistance was needed for small repair projects. Most of the cost of materials is provided by homeowners, but if your group is able to raise additional resources, there are those who do not have the supplies or the skills to make repairs.

Officer Blue of Detroit’s Ninth Precinct has offered to connect us with homeowners near Mount Calvary who may need small repairs, especially senior citizens and special-needs individuals.

Lisa operates a nonprofit to develop green spaces in Detroit’s southwest side. She could use assistance clearing lots, planting and maintaining gardens already developed. Mount Calvary Lutheran has a playground/park area and planned garden space of its own to develop as well.

Michelle recently contacted us with a request for maintenance in a church housing a nonprofit preschool with which her nonprofit organization works.

Mount Calvary and the Gifts for All God’s Children nonprofit are among those with whom you may work to plan and lead a summer camp program for community children.

There are just a few of the possibilities developing in Detroit. I hope they catch your heart as you look for a way to express the love of Jesus in tangible ways to a community in need of “a hand up” in rebuilding.Rev. John S. Carrier

Wondering why the LCMS chose Detroit? There are at least eighteen reasons why Detroit needs mercy and help:

  • In 2011, PBS reported 1 , based on recently-released census data, that:
    • In the 1950s, Detroit supported about 200,000 manufacturing jobs. By 2011, that had fallen to 20,000.
    • The state of Michigan lost 48% of its manufacturing jobs between December 2000 and December 2010.
  • A 2012 study by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund showed that 47% of adults in Detroit were functionally illiterate.
  • The Telegraph reported in 2013 2 that:
    • The population of Detroit fell drastically from the 1950s (1.8 million) to 2013 (700,000).
    • The city of Detroit filed bankruptcy owing 100,000 creditors $18.5 billion.
    • Only about a third of Detroit’s ambulances were running and 40% of Detroit’s street lights were not working.
  • CNN Money examined the city’s bankruptcy filing 3 in 2013 and found that the city claimed:
    • There were seventy “Superfund” hazardous waste sites in Detroit.
    • Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit had been permanently closed down since 2008.
    • The city's violent crime rate was five times the national average and the highest of any city with a population exceeding 200,000.
  • A 2015 report in The Detroit News4 described the city’s housing decline:
    • Since 2005, over a third of Detroit properties had been foreclosed on.
    • 84,000 properties were listed on the city’s blight list; 76% of those were homes that had been foreclosed on.
    • Many homes in Detroit were being sold at a fraction of their purchase cost, many for $500 or even less.
  • The Michigan League for Public Policy published a study showing that 94,000 Detroit children up to age 17 live in poverty, 57% of the children in the city.

Please consider joining us this summer to help some of the people of Detroit in our 2017 servant event!

  1. Micki Maynard, “Detroit: A Boom Town Goes Bust” (PBS Newshour, March 23, 2011)
  2. Harriet Alexander, “‘Motor City’ Detroit Files for Bankruptcy with 100,000 Creditors” (The Telegraph, July 19, 2013)
  3. Aaron Smith, “Sixteen Things That Are Wrong in Detroit” (CNN Money, July 19, 2013)
  4. Joel Kurth and Christine MacDonald, “Volume of Abandoned Homes ‘Absolutely Terrifying’” (The Detroit News, May 14, 2015)

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?