Skip to comments.History and religion lift boys in downtown Detroit heritage tour
Posted on 05/21/2006 4:42:36 PM PDT by fgoodwin
History and religion lift boys in downtown Detroit heritage tour
Scouts explore beauty, diversity and freedom
BY DAVID CRUMM FREE PRESS RELIGION WRITER
May 21, 2006
Detroit often draws visitors for sports, casinos and music, but on Saturday 200 people headed downtown for a rare opportunity to glimpse some of the crown jewels of Detroit's religious heritage.
"It's great to be involved in any first, and today is our first-ever Boy Scouts of America Walk with God in Detroit," Ron Pelley, a Scout leader from Allen Park who coordinated the event, told the crowd of scouts and adult helpers.
In seven hours, the group hiked to the location of Detroit's first Jewish congregation, then to six historic Christian churches. The tour wrapped up with a lecture on Islam on the lawn of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan, a cosponsor of the event.
Despite the long hours, stereotypes about kids getting bored in churches vanished. Heads rotated in church after church as the boys scrambled to explore the sights in every direction.
Sam Delisi, 8, of Harrison Township loved Old St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greektown. "It's so beautiful. I like how they decorated all the statues here and the big marble pillars."
Joshua Daniels, 10, of Southfield said he was amazed by Second Baptist Church, also in Greektown. "I just liked being in a church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke," he said.
The Rev. Kevin Turman, Second Baptist's pastor, was among several clergy who wowed the kids with cool details about church history.
At Second Baptist, the scouts were eager to know about the below-ground room in the church where runaway slaves were hidden more than 150 years ago as part of the Underground Railroad.
"Well, it was like hiding in what amounted to an oversized closet," Turman said.
The boys' enthusiasm for such history lessons impressed many parents, including John Daniels of Southfield, Joshua's father. "Today, I was pleased to see how interested they were in connecting what they were seeing with what they've learned in school," he said.
At the Episcopal Christ Church near the Renaissance Center, the Rev. Phillip Jackson drew oohs and aahs by pointing out "the most valuable piece of art in our entire church -- a priceless Tiffany stained-glass window."
At the moment Jackson pointed to the window and 200 heads turned in that direction, sunlight streaming through the rainbow-hued glass made it a startling sight.
Christine Woods of Troy brought her son, Caleb, 8, on the hike and was impressed with the event's diversity. "In my son's den, we have Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic and Hindu scouts. It's very important for children to learn from an early age how people from different religions can get along."
At the site of Detroit's first Jewish congregation, where a Michigan historical marker now stands on East Congress, Ray Clement, a Jewish scout leader from Trenton, led a prayer in Hebrew and stressed the importance of defending religious diversity.
"What should freedom mean?" Clement asked the boys. "It should mean freedom to live where we want, to get an education and to worship where we want."
In the final talk on Islam, Abdulredha Jasem of Dearborn told the crowd, "God made us unique so that, together, we can make this world a beautiful place."
Contact DAVID CRUMM at 313-223-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org