DETROIT (WWJ) – How does a small urban church with a congregation that struggles to pay its bills end up opening a community center that has changed the face of their neighborhood?

“A little miracle,” said Rev. Charles Boayue. pastor of the Second Grace United Methodist Church in Detroit.

Nearly a dozen years ago the church, in the Joy-Southfield area of the city, had a leaky roof, barely working restrooms and a sanctuary carpet that was thread bare.  

The decision was made the repairs had to be made. 

(credit: Marie Osborne/WWJ)

(credit: Marie Osborne/WWJ)

“The Church took out a $700,000 mortgage,” said Boayue.

Repairs to the roof and restrooms were made but before the rest of the repairs were done, the congregation decided it was better to help the people who lived outside their doors first.   This was the start of the Joy Southfield Community Development Corporation. 

“I call it the parable of the Sanctuary carpet,” said JSCDC Director Rodney Gasaway. “It’s the most remarkable story I’ve ever heard.”

 The church took out the mortgage and built the center with no guarantee of success.  In fact, Rev. Boayue, a native of Africa, said he often worried if it failed, he would be sent back to Liberia.  

The community center today serves 3,500 people a year, most with free medical care.  The mortgage is being paid, and just a year and a half ago, the carpeting in the church sanctuary was replaced.

“They thought of others before themselves,” said Gasaway.  A beautiful lesson for any season of the year.


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