Cass Community UMC: Cherishing the Discarded

Cass Community UMC
11850 Woodrow Wilson
Detroit, MI 48201

Cass Community Social Services
11745 Rosa Parks Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48206
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Cass Community UMC in Detroit, MI.
Cass Community UMC in Detroit, MI.

Ministry Overview

At Cass, the Holy Spirit invites all in. Old tires dropped off in empty lots are sought after because this community sees purpose and value in the discarded. They know that these are not simply old tires but treasures ready to give new life by creating employment and community. Yet people are sought after even more. Everyone has value, gifts, and something to offer. (Sandy Devoid, UM Christian Educator, “Ministering with the Poor at Cass Community UMC“)

Cass Community UMC in Detroit, Michigan and its affiliated not-for-profit, Cass Community Social Services, are located in post-industrial, economically stressed neighborhoods in Detroit. Cass includes many folks who lack a roof over their heads, along with people struggling with addiction and people coping with physical and mental disabilities–“three dimensional, flesh and blood” people with their own talents, hopes, and dreams (This Far By Faith, x). Cass offers welcoming and spirited worship at the church on Sunday mornings, and at “The World Building” on Wednesday evenings.

Cass offers many ministries and programs, including those relating to food, health, housing, and jobs, and other services and activities that foster a community-centered future of economic and spiritual growth for those living in inner city Detroit. These programs include:

  • Cass Green Industries, a collection of environmentally-friendly, job-creating endeavors including Detroit Treads, a company that produces sandals made from illegally dumped tires. The company provides steady work for over a dozen people and produced 3,000 pairs of sandals in just five months. Green Industries as a whole employs over 85 people.
  • Two Free Clinics on Wednesdays at the World Building and on Saturdays at the Activity Center, offer medical care and medications to patients free of charge.
  • Street outreach, emergency shelters, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing for over 300 people through Cass Community Social Services.
  • A food program that serves a million meals a year. Matt Prentice, a well-known and respected restaurateur, trains staff, supervises volunteers, and prepares food.
  • An urban gardening program that began in 2010 comprised of garden beds and plots all over the Cass campus as well as a hydroponic greenhouse. The program grows more than 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables for use in Cass’ commercial kitchen.
  • Cass Community Publishing House, which produces books on social change that traditional publishing companies might not embrace, including Rev. Faith Fowler’s memoir about her first twenty years at Cass, This Far by Faith.

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The Haywood Street Congregation: A Welcoming Table

Relationships blossom at Haywood Street. Photo courtesy of the Haywood Street Congregation.

The Haywood Street Congregation
297 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801
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Ministry Overview

“Our Mission is to be a transformative, open community of Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, creating opportunities to serve and be served so that all who participate are empowered to claim their identity as a child of God.”

At the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC, various core programs provide a platform for the “ministry of relationship,” which Haywood Street defines simply as the act of “being with.” It contrasts with “doing for” and forms the basis for Haywood Street’s “unique and transformative companion ministry.” These core programs include:

  • The Downtown Welcome Table serves a free sit down, family style luncheon for up to 400 people each Wednesday, with cloth napkins, flowers on the table, and china plates. Through partnerships with some of the very best local restaurants and chefs, referred to as Chefs at The Downtown Welcome Table, once a month the Downtown Welcome Table becomes a gourmet affair. Free haircuts are available to those waiting to be seated for lunch.
  • A radically welcoming mid-day, mid-week worship service draws in hundreds of worshippers.
  • God’s Outfitters Clothing Closet is a free store that serves about 150 people on Wednesdays.
  • The ‘Love & Fishes Bountiful Garden’ produces fresh, organic produce, grown by and for the community.
  • The Haywood Street Respite, a transitional living and healing space, accommodates up to eight adults in need of a home-like place to rest and recover after being discharged from inpatient hospital stays.

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