|I'm riding down Kercheval, just east of the Chrysler factory, when I spot this storefront church. As I pull over to take a picture of the place, an old guy with a gray afro and a bushy gray mustache comes out the door and motions me over. He shakes my hand and smiles and tells me this is his church. "We need one of you, too," he says. "Come in, come in." It takes me a second to figure out what he means by "one of you." I guess he means that I'm a dorky white guy on a beat-up bike, and at his church, even a guy like me is welcome.
Inside, I meet the minister's daughter, and his son, and his wife, a sweet old lady with a walker and thick glasses. The church is tiny, but it's crammed full of stuff: a few rows of pews, some tables and chairs, and an altar up front. What catches my eye, though, are the walls. They're completely covered with Biblical scenes: Moses handing out the Ten Commandments; the 3 Wise Men; Jesus on the cross. The minister tells me his son James painted them. I ask if I can take some photos, and everyone says that's okay. The photos don't turn out so good, which stinks. It's not everyday I get to peak inside a folk art Sistine Chapel on the east side of Detroit.
A table near the altar is stacked with a couple dozen Easter baskets. Easter is Sunday, and during the service, the minister will pass out the baskets to the kids who are there Then the minister offers me one. It's a totally awkward, totally poignant moment-- the pastor of a ghetto church offering some white dude who just happened to ride by on his bike an Easter basket intended for the neighborhood kids. A neighborhood, I should mention, that's lost so many houses to fires and neglect and abandonment that it's mostly vacant lots now, and it's not unusual to flush a pheasant from the grass as you ride down the street. But then the minister's daughter shoots the minister a look that seems to say "what the hell are you doing?" and that sort of settles the matter.