Metro Detroit Interfaith Conference for Clergy
& Community Leaders
Dear Friends in Faith,
Marriage and family, God’s first institution, unites us as one human family. The vocational vow, “I do” unites all societies, cultures, races and religions.
Today, however, with plummeting marriage rates, widespread cohabitation, unwed births, soaring divorce and a redefinition of marriage that defies both biology and common sense, God’s first institution faces termination.
As John Paul II said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” This augurs perilous times for our world, America, and Detroit.
On April 7, 2014 — Metro Detroit’s interfaith community came together to explore a proven path to restore marriage & family life that united America’s third poorest metropolis to transform El Paso, Texas into America’s safest city.
Vic Faust (Conference Emcee)
Vic Faust is co-anchor of Detroit’s Channel 7 Action News This Morning and Action News at Noon. He previously anchored the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sportscasts on Action News Weekend and hosted the 30-minute Sunday Sports Update.
Prior to joining channel 7 in 2004, Foust worked at KQTV in St. Joseph, Mo, KMIZ in Columbia, Mo., and KOKI in Tulsa, Okla., as a Sports Director/Anchor. He began his broadcasting career as a color-commentator on the Missouri Tiger Radio Network, following a four- year football career as a Tiger.
When asked what it takes to be successful, Vic says, “Act with integrity, be honest, keep your faith and bring your best every day.”
When Vic isn’t chasing down a story for Channel 7, he enjoys working out and spending as much time as possible with his family. He is married with three children.
Barney Field for 23 years has been executive director of El Paso for Jesus, which he founded in an effort to bring church leaders together to rebuild the city, which had been ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in the United States. Today El Paso is considered a tourist designation and has been ranked the safest big city in the U.S. four years in a row.
Field was raised in a Christian family in Delaware, is a graduate of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and was co-captain of the football team. He was an officer in the U.S. Army and earned a Commendation Medal.
View a video about his experience with El Paso for Jesus.
Dr. Michael T. Ross
Dr. Michael T. Ross has practiced medicine for over three decades in urban and suburban emergency departments in New York and Michigan since graduation from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1981. He traded his Bronx hometown for Motown that year to train in emergency medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital and Wayne State University during the early 1980s.
Interest in the broken family and its relationship to suffering children and blighted communities has risen steadily over his medical career. For the past fifteen years, Dr. Ross has turned his attention to serving on several non-profit boards committed to crafting solutions for plummeting marriages & pandemic broken family life across Michigan. While numerous leaders have trumpeted efforts to rebuild Detroit with towering edifices and restoration of older structures, over 80% of babies enter Detroit to unwed homes in which poverty is six-fold greater and tragic and costly illness, trauma, mental health disorders and unimaginable suffering are the only reliable legacy Michigan and Metro Detroit leaders have left for today’s children, parents, and families over the past four decades.
Dr. Ross envisions a Metro Detroit Miracle arising from a renaissance in marriage and family life in Detroit and southeastern Michigan spurred by cooperation and collaboration amongst clergy and lay leaders of faith. Communities and nations will be inspired by the transformation of America’s poorest, most violent city and want to emulate the El Paso Miracle that showed us the way to imagine the impossible.
Baptist businessman Barney Field imagined a new day of hope for America’s 3rd poorest metropolitan region in El Paso and inspired clergy and other people of faith to join him in a mission of marriage and family restoration that rapidly dropped the divorce rate by 80% and increased total married households to 51% of all households by the 2010 Census. Married couples with minor children now comprise 26% of all households in El Paso as compared to 8.5% for Detroit. El Paso has become the safest and best performing of the nation’s largest 200 cities. Austin, Tx, now home to 850,000 people, had similar success.
Born and reared in the Bronx, Dr. Ross has lived and worked in New York City’s Manhattan and Queens boroughs. Married and father of a daughter and two sons, Dr. Ross has lived with his family in Troy, Michigan since 1987.
Jennifer Roback Morse
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, which promotes life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.
She is also the Senior Research Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. She is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World, (2005) and Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work (2001), which was recently reissued in paperback, as Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.
She received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester in 1980 and spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago during 1979-80. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University for 15 years and was a research fellow for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 1997-2005.
She is a regular contributor to the National Review Online, National Catholic Register, Town Hall, MercatorNet and To the Source. Her public policy articles have appeared in Forbes, Policy Review,The American Enterprise, Fortune, Reason, the Wall Street Journal, Vital Speeches, and Religion and Liberty.
Her scholarly articles have appeared in many journals. In 2006 she lectured at the Fifth Annual Meeting of Families in Valencia Spain, sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family and spoke in Rome in 1997 and 2006 at Acton Institute conferences celebrating the Papal encyclical, Centesimus Annus.
She and her husband live in San Diego, Calif., and are the parents of a birth child, an adopted child. Between 2003 and 2006, they were foster parents for a total of eight children.
Harry C. Veryser
A life-long resident of Metro Detroit, Harry C. Veryser has broad experience in manufacturing, economics and education. His latest book, It Did Not Have to Be This Way: How the Principles of Austrian Economics lead to Peace and Prosperity, has received critical acclaim for its penetrating analysis of the causes of poverty in America and the collapse of the auto industry in Michigan.
Veryser was director of graduate studies in economics at the University of Detroit Mercy from 2007-2012 and was chairman of the Economics and Finance Department at Walsh College for 20 years, retiring in 2007. He has also served on the faculties of Northwood University, St. Mary’s College-Orchard Lake, Hillsdale College, Ave Maria College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and the University of Detroit, and teaches in the disciplines of economics, history, ethics and philosophy.
He was the chairman of the Board of Directors of Stampings Inc., a light manufacturing concern in Fraser, Mich., a division in Texas, from 1987 until 2005. He is semi-retired and continues writing and research in addition to teaching at The University of Detroit Mercy and Northwood University.
Veryser has served on many advisory boards for private and public organizations: The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, American Council on Economics and Society; Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Philadelphia Society, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and The Michigan Catholic.
His articles have appeared in The Detroit News, The Intercollegiate Review and The University Bookman. He received on honorary doctoral degree from Thomas More College in 2010 and is knight of the Holy Sepulchre, an honorary title bestowed by the Latin Patriach of Jerusalem.
Dr. Nicholas Phillips
Dr. Nicholas Phillips is pastor of Marriage Ministries at NorthRidge Church in Plymouth Mich. He has earned a doctorate of ministry degree in marriage and family, and teaches at various academic setting in marriage and family systems. He is a consultant in developing infrastructures to safeguard marriage for each stage of marriage vulnerability, as well as training staff and volunteers in preparing, enriching and restoring marriages.
He has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally at marriage conferences, seminars, workshops, and retreats. He is a national trainer for Prepare-Enrich, a marriage assessment and mentoring training program, as well as certified in pre-marriage, enrichment, and weekend marriage intensives. He has guided over 950 pre-marriage couples through a preparation and mentoring system that has created less than 6 percent divorce rate at his current ministry setting in the last 12 years.
Dr. Phillips and his wife Carol have four adult children.
Cathy LaLonde graduated from Everest College at the University of Windsor with a diploma in Health, Fitness and Nutrition Consulting. She currently works as a fitness instructor and personal trainer for Lifestyles Family Fitness Center in Windsor Ontario.
After high school Cathy attended a three year leadership training program in New York City called Special Task Force. As a youth leader in this program she hosted and lectured at programs on the topic of moral and ethical behavior for young people.
Cathy also helped to organize local youth service projects around the New York area, has recently been married, and brings a unique perspective to marriage preparation.
Rev. David Kasbow
Rev. David Kasbow is the senior pastor of the Metro Detroit Family Church in Warren, the worship center of the Family Federation for World Peace & Unification, a position he has held for 14 years. He is a co-chair of the interdenominational group, the American Clergy Leadership Conference. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Loyola College in Baltimore, Md., and an MRE from Unification Theological Seminary.
Rev. Kasbow has a limited license in psychology and worked at Counseling Associates from 1992 to 2000 when he took the position as full-time pastor. From 1973, when he joined the Unification Church, to 1992 he worked in a variety of missions involving travel through 47 of the 50 states and to Asia, South America and several nations of former Soviet Union. He was born and raised in Detroit and has been married for 25 years to his wife Shigeko. They have one son, Adam.
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi (Conference Host)
Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi joined the Islamic Seminary, also known as Hawza, when he was twelve years old. His excellent Hawza achievements greatly impressed his teachers. At the age of fifteen, as he continued his seminary education he also began his social dawah work and soon after became recognized nationwide as a prominent speaker.
He was imprisoned for a while for his lectures against political corruption during the pre-revolution era in Iran. He was later appointed to teach Islamic ethics and values in the Navy.
After five years as a spiritual leader in the Navy, he established the Cultural Research Center in Tehran. It was a work on the spiritual motivations of martyrs of Islamic Revolution and victims of Saddam Hussein unjust war on Iran. The encyclopedia of Ambassadors of light, also known as Safeerani-Noor was a work of imam Elahi and his Research Center.
In 1986, he traveled to London and stayed there for one year. He studied English and the lifestyle of the Western society during that period. In addition to his seminary Theological studies, he received a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and Masters Degree in Social Sciences.
In 1991, he received an invitation from the World Religions Conference in San Francisco to participate and speak in that international interfaith event.
Following the conference he visited Dearborn in Michigan where he was invited to reside permanently to serve the Muslim community.
In 1992, he moved to Dearborn and served as the Imam and Director of the Islamic Center of America for 3 years!
In 1995, with the support of those who were impressed with his ideas, openness and concern for the young generation, he established the Islamic House of Wisdom.
Under Imam Elahi’s leadership and courage, and with the generous contributions of the community members and trustees, the new facility in Dearborn Heights was purchased in 1997. Presently The Islamic House of Wisdom is one of the largest mosques in the State of Michigan.
Imam Elahi is active within many Islamic and interfaith organizations locally and nationwide. He has received a number of awards and recognitions for his peaceful and bridge building interactions.
Imam Elahi educational and outreach credibility helped him to receive letters of support and recommendation from the greatest religious authorities called Marjaas in the Islamic world.
Through his meaningful published articles in newspapers, powerful Friday prayer lectures and weekly educational presentations at IHW, he continues to be a great source of education and inspiration for all who search for truth, understanding and openness.
Q&A Leadership Panels
- Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi, Islamic House of Wisdom
- Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, The Muslim Center
- Rev. Dr. Sidney Griffin, Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
- Rabbi Mordecai Waldman, Congregation Beth Tephilath Moses, Retired
- Rev. Galan Walther, Lutheran Michigan District
- Rabbi Dorit Etud, Detroit Interfaith Outreach Network
- Rev. Dr. Nick Phillips, Northridge Church
- Jim Thienel, Berkley Appliance & Computer; Chmn. Oakland County Republican Party
- Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Economist, Ruth Institute
- Bishop Roy D. Ferguson, World Deliverance Temple
- Harry Veryser, Retired Chair Economics Depts., U of D Mercy & Walsh College
- Commissioner Jim Runestad, Oakland County Commission
- Edward Taub, retired teacher
- Pastor Gary Nixon, Little Rock Baptist Church
- Imam Imam Najah Al-Husseini
- Bettie Scott Cook, former Michigan State Representative, Detroit
- Dr. Mark Latkovic, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
FAQ: About the Conference
The conference served Metro Detroit’s clergy and invited business and community leaders to join with them to create a Metro Detroit Miracle, the restoration of marriage and family life and an authentic future for the children of this region as we rebuild Detroit together. Speakers and panelists included clergy and acknowledged experts in the effort to restore marriage and family life.
Why should I have attend?
Our nation’s foundational institutions are collapsing. We discussed positive, proven solutions that clergy can use in their faith community and organizations to restore marriage and family, safeguard children, parents and spouses, and secure their houses of worship as thriving centers of community life.
What was the event?
A one-day conference during which clergy and community leaders discussed the crisis of our culture and proven best practices to resolve the crisis. There were breakout sessions in which attendees presented an action plan for moving the Metro Detroit region forward.
The conference took place at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn.
Why was it not in Detroit at a Christian church?
Future events will be held throughout the Metro Detroit region at Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in the community.
This conference and its sponsor, Defending Our Fathers House, focused only on Marriage and Family Life. While we recognize doctrinal differences among faiths and houses of worship in Metro Detroit, the crisis of broken marriages afflicts all of us together, and especially our most vulnerable who suffer without family life, children most especially. The solutions to the crisis we discussed can be implemented in all houses of worship in full alignment with each congregation’s particular character, beliefs, and practices. Some congregations already have programs similar to what we will present. What made this conference very different, is that it brought together God’s chosen leaders of all faiths to lift up Metro Detroit to be a city on a hill, one marriage and one family at a time — one congregation and all together making this happen for the common good of Michigan and America.