Struggling Detroit Church Receives a Helping Hand

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Even though a Detroit, Mich. church had a hole in its roof for about a year, it didn't stop its congregation from ministering to those in need.

Many inner city churches often give freely of their money and themselves, but no one cares for them.

It's hard to imagine that a well-to-do church in the suburbs would put up with what Detroit's Pilgrim Church has had to endure.

As The Motor City fell on hard times, the church went from being the largest Presbyterian church in the Midwest to a poor place whose congregants could not even pay for repairs to their building.

That's why a roof that was in need of repair soon turned into one with a large hole in it.

"Our church has been made fun of," said Pastor Henry Covington. "The raggedy church with the hole in the ceiling."

However, the congregation would not give up, because its ministry was just too vital to Detroit's down-and-out. It was often the only place the homeless could find a place to sleep. The church's kitchen was often the only place the hungry could find a meal.

Those who came to services in snow or rain would have to huddle under a plastic tent as the elements rained down through the hole in the roof.

But then an angel came to Pilgrim Church.

True, an angel of this earth, but an angel nonetheless. Mitch Albom, author of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and a man dedicated to improving life in his adopted hometown of Detroit.

"At that point I don't think you ask what faith are they," said Albom. "Are they the same as me? You just see these people need help. And that's when I told Henry, 'You won't have another Christmas like that.'"

Albom began the Hole in the Roof Foundation, dedicated to helping ministries that care for the homeless, but need help themselves. The first goal of the foundation was fixing that gaping hole in the roof at Pilgrim.

Money and help poured in from all over the world, including a California church that bought the needed building supplies.

"We just love to care for the poor and we think that the giving back makes a difference," said Pastor Danny Carroll of Water of Life Community Church in Fonatna, Calif. "It makes a difference in people's lives like this and it makes a difference in our lives."

Volunteers showed up, many of them Detroit's unemployed, and within a few weeks, the roof was repaired, and that gaping hole covered with a plaque containing the names of everyone who contributed.

And now the congregation at Pilgrim worships in warmth -- a warmth supplied by those with a giving heart.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.