Clergy and churches launch new DRIVE initiative

Drive president
DRIVE president, Rev. Michael G. Cunningham, Pastor of Historic East Lake Baptist Church

Over 50 congregations were represented at the Commitment Ceremony of the Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity (DRIVE) on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 31. Five hundred and fifty people attended the spirited 90-minute ceremony, co-chaired by Rev. Aramis Hinds of Breakers Covenant International Church in Detroit, and Rev. Louise Ott of Congregational Church of Birminghmam UCC. The congregations were welcomed to Gesu Catholic Church by the Pastor, Rev. Robert Scullin, SJ.
The pastors, along with two rabbis are building DRIVE to be a “coalition of clergy, congregations and allies, acting and advocating to create a just, equal and equitable community through congregation-based organizing.”
Following a call to action by Apostle John Harvey of Serenity Christian in Highland Park, 32 congregations committed their membership, announcing publicly their 2016 financial support and how many of their leaders would attend the first Core Team Training on Sunday afternoon, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills.
Other congregations announced that they were in the process of deciding membership.
Psalm 118 provided the theme of the ceremony; Rabbi Aaron Bergman of Adat Shalom Synagogu) gave a scriptural reflection:  “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Commenting on the name DRIVE, Rev. Alonzo Bell, Pastor of Martin Evans MBC on Gratiot, said that “when many speak with one strong voice, not only are they heard, but they are able to produce results.  Equity ensures that all people are justly given the equal opportunity to compete on an equal playing field.
Rev. Michael G. Cunningham, Pastor of Historic East Lake Baptist Church, gave a short history of Detroit, challenging participants to work together to make changes that are long in coming.  “We cannot be stuck in neutral.  We have to put ourselves into DRIVE.”
Five speakers highlighted the kinds of issues that citizens face in common. Rev. Kevin Turman of Second Baptist Church focused on the state of Public Education in our city, region and state.  Redford Mayor Tracey Schultz Kobylarz talked about the levels of poverty and scarcity of resources in the older suburbs across the region.  Rev. Susan Bock of Grace Episcopal Church in Mt. Clemens talked about the numbers of homeless children in her area, and the results of decades of disinvestment in mental health services.  Ms. Taniya Doz’ier’ of Martin Evans MBC in Detroit described the high cost of auto insurance in Detroit as an obstacle for young men and women starting families and careers.  Rev. Patricia Gandarilla of United Methodist Church Centro Familiar in SW Detroit, said her young Latino families want to be part of a broader community with people of other races and cultures so they can participate in the work to make our neighborhoods safer and cleaner.
The new 7-member Organizing Team of DRIVE was presented to the assembly.  Rev. Dr. Twana Harris of Carter Metropolitan CME transitioned her final prayer into a glorious rendition of “Glory” from the movie Selma, led by Dawan Glover of St. John CME and Rev. Anthony Wells if One in Praise.
For information on DRIVE and its upcoming Core Team Training, call 313-549-0421.

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