Northwest Unity invests in neighborhood, not mega church
By Bankole Thompson
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Million-dollar mega churches are not the answer to social and economic problems within the Black community.
The church cannot ignore needs in the community, such as home ownership, if it is to help rebuild the lives of poor people.
These were the messages Northwest Unity Missionary Baptist Church delivered June 16 when it dedicated its first completed home. The house was the first of a new housing project that seeks to build 45 new low-income houses in that neighborhood. Northwest Unity Missionary is located at 8345 Ellsworth in Detroit’s Northwest neighborhood. It is home to approximately 400 members.
“We are committed to this wonderful community because we know you cannot preach religion to a person who is in hell, thus we built these homes not to glorify this church but to glorify God,” said Rev. Oscar King III pastor of the church. “We applaud all of those who are called by God to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives.”
King said it is the church’s vision to remove the economic blinders by uplifting its neighborhood with new homes.
The keys to the new home were given to Sandra Bullock, the first resident of the homes being built.
“This is truly a blessing,” Bullock said in tears before members of the church and the community accompanied her to her new house.
Under the Oneda Corporation, named after Oneda Smith, a senior member of the community and the church, the houses will consist of three and four bedroom homes. The affordable colonial style brick homes will be sold to residents who meet the median income requirements.
“Everyone is qualified,” King said. “Bring your applications.” According to King, the project is the outgrowth of the church’s vision to revitalize the community and create home ownership.
“The church’s mission of providing homes to low-income families is central to the gospel,” King said.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick applauded the efforts of the church.
“We have some dynamic preachers in Detroit and one of them is Rev. King,” Kilpatrick said. “Pastors are the central hub of the social and economic sphere of our community.”
Wayne County Commissioner Keith Williams from District 6, which represents the neighborhood, said the revitalization of the Northwest neighborhood with new houses is major progress.
“We saw the devastation of this community with drugs and crime,” Williams said.
Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel and Elizabeth Ayannah Johnson, representing Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson, also praised the efforts of the church.
Mary Adams, business development officer for Charter One Bank, which partnered with the church to build the houses said that the bank was proud to be part of this project.
Darren Sanders, one of the project’s exploration committee members said the construction of the houses has over 60 percent minority participation.
One of the attractions of the project, according to the church, is that, “Northwest Unity Homes offers convenient access to all major highways, schools, recreation, medical facilities and places of worship. The features include modern appliances, intrusion alarm, wall to wall carpet, garage and basement.”