By DAVID CRUMM
Editor of ReadTheSpirit
DETROIT, MI—Think book publishing is fading in the face of new media? Think the City of Detroit is “bad news”? Need some good news today?
We’ve never seen a book launch like this in the city of Detroit! Nearly 1,000 men and women from across Michigan bought tickets to Detroit’s Orchestra Hall on Saturday (September 27) to celebrate the launch of the city’s first ecumenical publishing house in 200 years, headed by one of the city’s most accomplished pastors: the Rev. Faith Fowler.
In a lengthy Detroit Free Press column, Mitch Albom writes: “Faith Fowler, 55, is not your typical pastor. She is funnier. And more blunt. And, Lord, does she get things done. … She is the most important currency of our city, a loving, egoless, inspiring leader who doesn’t see color, doesn’t see class, who looks at our poorest, most neglected citizens and sees only hope and opportunity.” At the Orchestra Hall event, Mitch showed up in person to further praise Faith’s work.
And Mitch was not alone! The launch was a symphony of community connections, orchestrated by Faith.
THE REAL REASON THIS LAUNCH WAS UNIQUE?
It’s accurate to call this launch “unique.” The crowd was enormous. The landmark setting was inspiring. Detroit hasn’t seen a publishing house like this in two centuries.
But the real reason this launch was unique? It was not all about Faith Fowler. In fact, she appeared on stage only briefly. It’s a rule in American publishing that book launches are a showcase for the author—but not this one!
Faith made sure that this launch was all about the community. And that is Faith’s most important talent. The Orchestra Hall stage was filled by musical groups from her congregation, singing such stirring selections that people in the crowd leaped to their feet, hands waved and “Amen! Amen!” echoed through the auditorium.
Everyone at Orchestra Hall felt the electricity when a beloved sports legend, retired University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, took the stage.
Anyone who cares about the city of Detroit was moved when the Rev. Laurie Haller, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, took the stage to read one of Faith’s stories with William Jones, the head of Detroit’s famous Focus:HOPE. In the crowd, minds silently flashed the connections: Suburb and City. White and Black. Female and Male. Church and Nonprofit.
Together, Haller and Jones read a moving story from Faith’s book. But they did more than read to the crowd. The sparked possibilities. Their appearance alone was good news to many.
SEE FOR YOURSELF!
ReadTheSpirit reaches readers around the world—but if you are in Michigan this week you can catch this infectious spirit. Come and see! Faith and friends are touring Michigan all this week.
On Sunday, September 28, Fowler and the Cass musical group, the Ambassadors, begin a week-long, statewide tour. All events begin at 7 p.m. except the Gaylord event, which begins at 6 p.m. Admission to these tour events is—free! Books and Cass Green Industry products will be available for purchase. Profits from book sales benefit the work of Cass Community Social Services.
- Sunday, September 28: Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, Portage, MI
- Monday, September 29: First United Methodist Church, Holland, MI
- Tuesday, September 30: First United Methodist Church, Midland Township, MI
- Wednesday, October 1: First United Methodist Church, Gaylord, MI (6 p.m. start)
- Thursday, October 2: Okemos Community Church, Okemos, MI
- Friday, October 3: United Methodist Church of Swartz Creek, Swartz Creek, MI
Wherever you live in the world, you can catch the fire of this amazing “good news” campaign.
The crowd at Orchestra Hall was as diverse as Michigan, but United Methodists were were especially well represented—because Faith herself is a United Methodist pastor. Just as this was a historic day for those who love the city of Detroit, this was a proud milestone for Michigan United Methodists.
“It was such a great day!” said the Rev. Marsha Woolley, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Northville, MI. “I brought with me some women who are native Detroiters and who, these days, are feeling really good about what is happening in Detroit. Experiencing this launch was just so inspiring—about the city of Detroit and about ministry in Detroit and about all those of us who want to work with the city’s very diverse people.”
“Inspiring! Uplifting! That’s what I felt,” said Maggie Hakala, a member of First United Methodist Church in Plymouth, who also went to the launch with a group of friends. “The readings from the book were so great. We all got our books as we left and I’m really looking forward to reading it, now. And I have to say: We appreciated the visit from Mitch Albom, too!”
(SPECIAL THANKS: Becky Hile and John Hile took the photographs published with our coverage of this book launch.)