Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Gateway to Service in St. Louis, Missouri.

Welcome to our next chapter in serving one another in faith! Coming up July 30 through August 3, 2017!

Our Interfaith team has looked at a number of opportunities in around the Midwest, analyzing distances, needs and our team's vast skill set in selecting a location both most in need of our services, and best suited to share our mission of working together in faith and friendship.

December 26-28, 2015, storms raged in the Midwest, hitting the St. Louis, MO area the hardest. The storm's total rainfall averaged between 6 and 12 inches over this period, leading to historic river flooding along the Mississippi, Bourbeuse and Meramec Rivers.

Buildings are submerged from flooding in Union, Missouri, Dec. 29, 2015. KTVI
Our mission this summer is to address persistent recovery needs before federal funding runs out in November, 2017. This means that our work is both critical and urgent to help the St Louis area continue to recover from this devastating storm system. Our work will require a broad spectrum of skills, the details of which will be known as we approach our trip date. Anything is helpful, from carpentry to landscaping. From plumbing to painting. From photography to a simple helping hand where needed. Mostly, we need YOU, as an ambassador of goodwill and encouragement to those who are still struggling to recover.
The Gateway Arch, as seen from across the swollen Mississippi River. UPI

We are a team of goodhearted, hard working and welcoming friends from a number of Northwest Suburban faith communities. Our numbers include those from a number Catholic, Protestant and Jewish congregations, coming together to heed God's call to love and serve our neighbors in need.

Please learn more about our mission by following our blog. Please consider joining us or supporting us in this mission. More information is found at our links, below.

For more information, please follow our links:





Please consider promoting the trip to your own congregation if it is part of the Northwest Suburban Interfaith Council, or by joining one of our participating congregations.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Great Hope in People!

Our last day working in Detroit, but just another day for the people of this once majestic city!

We have had a few days of work, and put at least a small dent in the mind boggling needs of the city. Our work projects have only escalated in intensity and effort, with many projects coming to a close while others were brought to a transition point for the next team of volunteers to grace the Cass community.

Our front steps of the Cass World Building are now completed. The railings, which gave the most challenges, are now solid and safe for all who visit! Our file rooms are completed and sorted. The records so important to running such a large and complex organization are sorted and easily accessed as needed. All the steel outside and main area inside doors are freshly painted, and welcome those who come here for work or to receive services. Our teams at the Scott Building and Mom's Place Two both made significant headway to welcoming the clients of Cass to live under their care.

Some of our team enjoyed the privilege of working at the original Cass Community Church, installing a 'surprise' carillon, which only Rev. Fowler knew about before hand. Our crew needed to run the IT side of the installation, programming the carillon computer, install the hardware in very old, very strong stone, then wire the electronics so they were weatherproof for years of calling the community to worship. This church has the largest pipe organ in the state of Michigan, and original Tiffany stained glass windows. This is truly a historic church, which has seen much change in Detroit since it was built in 1883.

For our last evening in Detroit, most of our group opted for a cruise on the Detroit river, along the border of the US and Canada. This was a great chance to unwind and reflect on our time working with Cass. The weather was perfect for our Motown cruise, and the Detroit Princess crew did a great job of feeding and entertaining us.

We drove home on Sunday morning. Pastor Jim Andrews provided a reflection on our Sunday readings, and our conversation continued to help us process all we saw and did during our trip. One last stop for lunch, then on to our homes. We arrived safely, and are forever changed by our concern and experiences in Detroit.

Follow along and come to one of our follow up presentations!

In God's Service,
Your Interfaith Mission Team

Friday, July 22, 2016

The picture of Cass Community Social Services is coming into focus!

Spending time with Cass has helped us to see not only the tasks we are directly helping with, but also the depth and breadth of the services as well!

Several of our projects from yesterday have come to an end, and others have entered newer phases! There are also new projects coming into play, all of which are keeping us busy.

Our Cass House crew finished their work landscaping, so this team integrated with with our existing crew in Scott Building, to continue making the top floor ready for residents. Mom's Place two continued to make headway for residency as well. Both of these locations, in addition to others in the Cass network, are adapting to a change in the federal funding laws, which no longer favor transient housing. This may be a good thing in the long run, but for now, it is causing much turmoil and work for the already stretched non-profit ministries in Detroit.
Working in the corners. Much needed cleaning at Scott.

Painting the walls to bring new life to the apartments.

Some boards have outlived their usefulness.
Painting in all directions at Mom's Place Two.
Work continued at the World Building, which has only been part of Cass for a short time. Already, this has become a center for service and training! There are a number of products made here, which include the use of illegally dumped auto and truck tires, broken glass from the many shattered windows in the city, and lumber from razed homes destroyed by time or fire. These products, details to follow, help both clean up the neighborhoods and offer employment for those most in need. We continued to make this building usable for Cass' purposes by making progress on the entry stairs, painting the doors which probably haven't had attention in a decade, and moving all the record files onto the shelving begun yesterday. So far, only four floors of this eight story building are being used, but there are plans for the entire structure! We can't wait to see what the leadership of Cass comes up with.

Strong handrails for the new stairs.

A fresh coat of paint on the doors.

Files and more files!
Tomorrow, we will have more of a tour of the facilities of Cass Community Social Services, and see first hand the many ways this neighborhood is helping itself find roots and establish a community.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Hot Day, with Rewarding Work!

Our alarms were going off by 6:00am so we could get ready, have breakfast and make the bus by 7:15am! Our crew was awake and ready to go, and the hotel did a wonderful job keeping the breakfast items stocked.

Upon arriving at Cass Community Social Services' "Scott House", we unloaded and split into our various work groups, We had 6 work teams in four buildings to start, all but one of which were in a couple square blocks. We had a crew working in the Mom's Place Two, three crews (one floating IT crew) in the Cass World Building, another crew in the Scott House, and one more working a distance away at the Cass House.
Cass Community Social Services - Mom's Place Two.
IT crew making the security systems work correctly.

Defining the landscaping project at Cass House.

Power Tools! Building some stairs to enter the World Building.
Our crew did work to clean up the basement of the World Building, as well as move shelves from the 4th floor to be set up in one of the newly cleaned out rooms. Another crew worked on the entry stairs to the World Building, which had a newly constructed ramp already in place. Several of our team worked to make the Mom's Place Two inhabitable for a reformatted housing program which is set to be in place by September 1. The IT crew enjoyed working in all manner of environments, including the air conditioned administrative office! It is possible they took their time in this part of their rounds. Our last team worked at Cass House, a home for HIV positive men. Their job was to clean up the grounds which were, except for some basic lawn mowing, completely overgrown.

This evening, we enjoyed dinner at O'Kelly's Banquets. The food and fellowship was fantastic, and Rev. Fowler shared the story of creating the social service programs we see, over the past 20 years. The story is amazing, and begs to be engaged further. We will continue to both learn about what Cass is all about, as well as do some more work to their and God's purposes, as our trip continues.

Please check out Cass Community Social Services at their web site:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Welcome to... Dearborn!

Welcome back to our Detroit mission page.

We met this afternoon at Kingswood United Methodist Church in Buffalo Grove, IL for lunch. We enjoyed a meal together, and had a chance to meet others traveling to Detroit for this year's Interfaith mission trip. We have people along from Hope Lutheran Church, Kingswood United Methodist Church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Mary's Parish and Temple Chai. Our team counts 49 this year, and is a rich mix of new participants and veterans. We are people who have done many mission trips, just one or two Interfaith trips, and several who have never been on a service trip before.
Lunch and mingling before the drive to Detroit.

After nourishment, it was time to load the bus! People mingled some more, took group photos, and picked their seats. Pastor Eric Schlichting went through our list to be sure everyone who was to be on the bus was indeed present! Our bus driver, Jeff, gave us the run down on our trip and accommodations for the next 6 hours, and we were on our way! Our journey was uneventful, and we enjoyed the time to get to know one another, stopping in Jackson for a great dinner before continuing to our hotel in Dearborn. Yes, we're ALMOST to Detroit, but not actually there as of tonight.

Our work team leads were meeting to go over what we had on tap for projects, and they seemed to be enjoying the challenges! Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, we will wake to breakfast, a 7:15 bus boarding time, and details on our work. Please come back tomorrow to see what we ended up doing for the day.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Interfaith reaching out to Detroit!

Welcome back to the Northwest Suburban Interfaith Council blog page!

Drive with us to the Motor City - Detroit, Michigan!

This summer, we will be working with Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), an organization started in 2002 to work in poverty stricken areas of Detroit, providing programs for food, health, housing and jobs. In line with the housing, the are in the process of final approval to break ground for the building of 25 homes. This is where we come in!

Our team will be part of building some of this new housing, even sending a crew out a day or two early to line up jobs and ensure our group hits the ground running. The specifics are still in the works, but come here to check out the trip as the plans come along, and please consider participating on the inspiring and valuable team!

Learn more about CCSS


To recap our past experiences, and what we bring to the table, the past two years our teams have been about 45 people, from teens to those in their 70's, men and women, skilled and apprentices. We have worked in Washington, IL to clean up farm fields, making them usable after a devastating tornado dropped a large part of the town on them. We built sheds to help those recovering from that same tornado, working in construction teams which brought out our construction and team building skills!

Our second trip was also tornado recovery, in Brookport, IL. We worked on three different sites, and five different buildings in various stages of construction! It was a privilege to watch some of our crew maneuver an end loader around our foundation site, to see the skill and near acrobatics or some of our younger crew staining rails and decks, and to admire the trade skills of those who installed water heaters or precision cut trim. Our outdoor work crews, especially, deserved special acclamation as the heat index kept climbing until it reached 110°F on our last day!

Throughout both of these trips and our time together reminiscing here at home, we enjoyed the fellowship of coming together to talk and worship in different ways. We have built solid relationships between our faith communities, and formed bonds of friendship with one another.

Peace and prayers to you, as we prepare again to be the hands and feet of God in the world.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Changed People.

Our work is done, and our drive home went well.

Pastor Eric shared a time of Christian prayer on the bus, and we once again felt the presence of God in our interfaith group. We ended the prayers by sharing peace with one another in a renewed spirit of cooperation and purpose.

Pastor Eric did a wonderful job of
sharing our common purpose under God
as seen through our Interfaith lenses.

Once settling into the drive, some of us rested, others read books, but most seemed to chat about the experiences we had. Our memories are filled with images of working in the heat, the meals we shared, and perhaps most of all, the stories of those we met. Trying to imagine what it was like for our friends Lucille or Francis as they experienced the tornado first hand will be with us for years to come.

We are now back in our homes, comfortable and cool. Our bodies can feel the effects of our work, and our hearts are touched by the lives of our new friends. Our prayer is that we don't forget what we've seen and learned, and that others will be touched by our story to join us for our next mission.

Thank you for your prayers, and please watch both here and in our congregations on news of presentations and upcoming trips.