Making It Happen
By Dr. Michael T. Ross
Motown, Murder town Capital of the United States, remains the most violent city in the land of the free and the home of the brave. How sad this is for our Great Lakes’ largest city still by far despite an accelerated loss of more than half her population over the last forty years. Once America’s 4th largest city, Detroit recently earned historical distinction as our nation’s most bankrupt large city in this greatest nation the world has ever known.
Few want to admit it, but for the world, Detroit witnesses the deepest darkness of the American way, a merciless indifference to the heart of suffering that inspires the wrath of the world. Look how Michigan draws the line at 8 Mile and relegates children and families of its largest city to soup kitchens, Wick programs, social security welfare and child support bureaucracies, humongous jails, schools that swallow our youths and fail to teach, and countless, costly government programs. Our leaders have transformed Motown into a wasteland of harrowing hoops to jump through that gorge scurrilous systems of pervasive, purulent dependency and corruption. This deathly disorder could be readily reversed by a low-cost, humble effort of area congregations to mentor man and woman in planet earth’s most primordial human relationship since the dawn of time—marriage!
We can all quibble about the statistics, but let’s face it. Michigan’s largest city is one of the most lethal places to be a child in America. Most Detroit area children who survive the childhood traumas of divided family life suffer painful consequences for a life-time—even if they become Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Kwamie Kilpatrick, Coleman Young, Tim Allen, Bill Bonds, Alice Cooper, Madonna, Dianna Ross, Eminem, Iggy Popp, Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Mary Wilson, Christie Brinkley, or Robin Williams to name a few one time or ongoing Michiganders.
Preparing and mentoring humanity’s complementary couple to vow and honor one another and enjoy man and woman’s most natural, biological, and spiritual oath of commitment, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, all the days that life provides is so doable and worthy of an effort to prove it can readily be done if we will only unite Michigan hearts to make our beloved Motown a shining city on a hill. How hard can it be to throw down the gauntlet and open our hearts to unite as one people to help our brothers and sisters to say ‘I do’ again and again, every day, one-man-one woman, one another for the love of life in this land of the free and the home of the brave, one nation under God for all believers, and only under the stars and stripes for those for chose not to believe.
Does it make much more sense to follow a five-year plan to restore the handshake and kiss of man and woman, the resplendent ‘I do,’ than erecting more costly towering government structures and pernicious private industries to devour children and capitalize on the incitement of hatred between two people who by design have the best opportunity anywhere to savor, enjoy, and witness the radiant and resounding joy of love and family?
What would it be like to imagine Marriage Motown 2020, a whirlwind of Great Lakes Hope—a nuptial storm of weddings that coelesce into a human headwind of unimaginable health and transformation virtually overnight. Dare we imagine a pandemic of clear thinking and behavior, virtue and health, forgiveness and respect, courtesy and forethought—and mercy and love? Is it possible to envision that widening workability of relationship and other focus in Motown and Michigan could reverse our current cynical perspective to engender an accelerated dissolution of child abuse, neglect, privation, and persecution accompanied by plummetting trends in crime, violence, trauma, disease, social disorder, and interpersonal division? Could an authentic Michigan Marriage Mentor Movement (4M) launch a Great Lakes miracle that spreads sea to shining sea? Would a nuptial storm like this revolutionize the American economy and raise up Lady Liberty’s torch of hope and prosperity in witness of an American miracle? If we can not imagine and fight for a future America like this with all the awesome intellectual and material resources with which we have been blessed, then our nation will have earned the brass ring of fourth world status we seem to crave with unfathomable fervor.
The horrors of childhood suffering in Motown have reached plague proportions now that ninety-five percent of first-born children in Detroit begin, and for most, complete their childhoods in unwed homes without the united love of Mom and Dad. No longer is this just a problem for Michigan’s largest city, but it’s the new norm for Michigan’s 2.3 million children statewide—45% of whom are born to unwed homes.
The pandemic privation of children denied the united love of married Moms and Dads, including the countless advantages children enjoy in households led by married biologic or adoptive parents, now afflicts most of Michigan cities from Highland Park, Pontiac, Flint, and Warren to Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Muskegan, and Grand Rapids as well as Detroit. Indeed, the Mason-Dixon divide of our 19th century Civil War, now runs through the living rooms of Moms and Dads in Michigan and across America in today’s 21st century Civil War between women and men. Division in our Great Lakes State runs so deep that it effectively quarantines the people of Detroit, once known for its river strait uniting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, from fellow family and citizens north of 8 Mile Road.
In 2013, Michigan’s ratio of annual divorces to annual marriages soared at 65%, up from 8% in 1910 when Henry Ford opened the world’s first automotive assembly plant on Woodward and Manchester in Highland Park, the heart of Motown’s maiden launch of the global multi-trillion dollar transportation industry. Once the Northwest Territory, Michigan provided hope for freedom from slavery for Dread Scott and countless others, a fervent educational campaign in 1844 to abolish slavery by the founders of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, and later a huge economic magnet for Americans once seeking hope from the south and east and for Muslim immigrants searching for opportunity from the Mid-East, Turkey, and Asia. Michigan contributed substantively to the final end of slavery, electing President Abraham Lincoln, and reconciling North and South during the Civil War that preserved the United States of America.
Detroit and all of Michigan is today more diverse and divided than ever. Ironically, division in the family is what unites the many peoples who make their home in our Great Lakes States. Whether black or white, Hispanic or Arabic, French, German, or Polish, Asian or East European, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, the family of Abraham all suffer in the raging spiritual Black Plague that kills marriage and family life and makes our economic and daily life increasingly unworkable for almost all Americans.
By 2015, Detroit had shrunk from America’s 4th largest city to its 21st, falling for the first time since 1850 from ranking amongst the twenty most populous U.S. cities. This reflects tremendous economic and cultural anemia that coincides with abandonment of the natural advantages that marriage and family life offer children, the elderly, the disabled and the entire community. Clearly, no where in America has government offered effective solutions for a problem articulated compellingly in 1965 by Dr. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon Johnson. Unwed births soar at rates two or three times greater than the alarming rate cited by Dr. Moynihan in urban centers across America. Neither Detroit or any Michigan city can ever turn to government at any level for hands-on help with with a Code Red marriage and family life reality. Solutions must come from the major stakeholders for marriage, those who enjoy the many gifts of married life, the congregations of all faith traditions which perform 80 percent of America’s weddings, and, most especially those of the family of Abraham, and the young people who increasingly discover that hookups, cohabitation, and wanton sex without commitment guarantee a progressively fruitless future without secure relationships, economic prospects, or safe and satisfying communities.
More and healthy marriage offers the wholesome workability that our households and communities desperately need. Married couples helping other couples through volunteer marriage mentor ministries in congregations of all traditions offers an inexpensive, readily doable answer to quelling the ills that plague our children and all our households. Leadership is desperately needed to encourage clergy to implement volunteer marriage mentor ministries in their congregations, and to appeal to nonprofit agencies and the business community to implement marriage and family friendly programs to promote and support marriage and family life.
Below is a model that can help unite Metro Detroit and eventually all of Michigan in a mission to unite as one heart to create the workability that makes marriage and family life readily accessible for all citizens in our Great Lakes State. We just might inspire the rest of America to follow us in a peace mission at home that spreads hope, prosperity, and a civilization of love to far distant shores.
Community Restoration Agreement Model (CRA)
I. Model Community Restoration Agreement (CRA) template reviewed by clergy & staff for agreement on provisions
II. Representatives of community congregations meet to discuss template and formulate unique CRA for their region
III. Each congregation develops its own internal mentor ministry oversight team and administrative guidelines
i. Identify goals & objectives for the mentor ministries including annual targets for CRA measures
ii. Set specific annual targets for total number of mentor couples involved in programming
IV. Congregation representatives form a CRA oversight team and administrative guidelines to track the CRA program and communicate progress via newsletter and annual report to participating congregations:
i. Monthly for 1st year
ii. Quarterly thereafter
iii. Annual Report
V. Schedule a formal community event where clergy representatives of the respective congregations sign their CRA with public speakers and fanfare
VI. Schedule Prepare-Enrich Certification & Mentor Couple Training to coincide with formal signing
VII. Post-signing: Each congregation sets up a routine for mentor ministry management including:
i. Selects specific enrichment materials and programs for its ministries, e.g. 10 great dates, etc.
ii. Schedule ongoing P/E training internally to expand ranks of mentor couples
Core Metro Detroit CRA Local Regions
- Livonia, Novi, Redford, Detroit Dct.1, Southfield, Lathrup, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Waterford, White Lake, Commerce, Northville, Wixom
- Royal Oak, Highland Park, Hazel Park, Detroit Dct. 2, Oak Park, Ferndale, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights, Clawson, Berkley, Troy, Rochester Hills, Rochester
- Hamtramck, Detroit Dct. 3, Ecorse, Wyandotte, Riverview, Trenton, Grosse Ile, Woodhaven, River Rouge, Gilbraltar, Flat Rock, Brownstown, Huron Twp
- Harper Woods, Detroit Dct. 4, Roseville, Grosse Pointes, St. Clare Shores, Frazer, Mount Clemens, Clinton Twp, Macomb, Harrison Twp., New Baltimore, Chesterfield
- Dearborn, Detroit Dct. 5, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Allen Park, Southgate, Taylor, Romulus,
- Detroit Dct. 6, East Pointe, Center Line, Warren, Sterling Heights, Utica, Shelby
- Inkster, Westland, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Plymouth, Canton, Plymouth Twp, Detroit Dct. 7, Taylor, Wayne, Northville Twp. (Wayne)
Prepare-Enrich Clergy & Mentor Couple Training & Costs
CRA Training Model
20 – 25 Certified Congregations per training
Approx. 50 Clergy & Staff + 150 Couples
Each CRA Region: Presume 1-2 Trainings
Basic CRA Training Costs per Congregation
P/E Training & Certification $180
(Includes Program Implementation Consulting)
Clergy Congregation Marriage Handbook: $35
Mentor Couple Handbooks : $240
(6 mentor couples; @ $40)
Meals: @$10/person: $200
Venue Facility Fee: $35
Venue Facility Fee Costs Per Training
A/V with Staff: $___________
Equipment & Supplies (flipcharts, markers, etc.): $150
Assistants (Ushers, set-up, etc.): $___________
Other : $___________
Total: $850 Est.
Total Per Congregation: (Ave. n=25) $35 Est.
Annual Mentor Ministry Programming Costs
Couples Relationship Ministry:
Engagement/Pre-Marriage Preparation: $2,000
Programming & Mentoring $1,500
Step-Family Support :
Programming, Mentoring & Support Group $1,500
Marriage Crisis Ministry:
Programming, Mentoring & Support $1,500
Programming, Mentoring & Support: $1,500
CRA Average Costs per Congregation
Initial P/E Certification/Mentor Training: $1,200
Annual Internal P/E Mentor Training: $600
Annual Mentor Ministry Program Costs: $500
 Community Restoration Agreement (CRA)
 Ave. Recommended: 2 clergy & 2 staff each with spouses & 6 mentor couples
 Includes training of mentor couples
 This cost distributed across total congregations
 Figures presume a congregation that serves up to 20 couples annually in each or any of its five marriage mentor ministries. Pre-marriage preparation presumes care of up to 20 couples provided in two sessions annually; each of these requires its couples to take the Prepare-Enrich inventory and commit to a minimum of 6 months to one year of pre-marriage programming and mentoring, at least twice monthly. A minimum of 4 mentor couples is needed to provide care for up to 20 couples annually. Ideally, a congregation should ask that each mentor couple commit to mentor two couples annually. Experience shows that most mentor couples will feel so rewarded by their efforts that they will seek to do more. For each congregation’s mentor couple ministry, one mentor couple would serve as lead mentor couple.
 One-time cost Prepare-Enrich Certification & Mentor Training: 2 clergy & 2 staff each with spouses, and initial six mentor couples (n=20)
 Average cost for ongoing continuing enrichment of mentors such as presentations, speakers, educational materials, and training costs for additional mentors
 Miscellaneous costs include consultations, materials, special events, etc.