December 31, 2012 — The Detroit Kingdom Enterprise Zone (KEZ) became active in November, igniting a collaborative effort between 10 congregations from the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America.
The effort comes at a time when the city is trying to redefine itself. Detroit is among the cities hardest hit by a struggling U.S. economy, especially impacted by a collapsing automotive industry and high unemployment rates. As Detroit attempts to bounce back, the KEZ is aiming to be part of the comeback.
Kingdom Enterprise Zones are joint church planting efforts of the two denominations.
The Detroit KEZ has plans to plant a new city center church that will attract young urban professionals. It also expects to begin a campus ministry at Wayne State University as well as using an existing CRC-RCA unified church as a community development and training center.
“This is like a David and Goliath thing—it’s Detroit and what are we?” said Rev. Dan Jongsma of Dearborn Christian Fellowship CRC, one of two co-leaders overseeing the Detroit KEZ. “But it’s been amazing because we’ve seen God putting Detroit on people’s hearts.”
For Jongsma, the coming together of the four CRC churches and six RCA congregations that make up the Detroit KEZ has been among the most rewarding aspects.
Before the zone was formed, each of the churches had been working individually, sometimes without even realizing the existence of other CRC and RCA congregations in greater Detroit. Over the past year, though, Jongsma and RCA co-leader Jon Beyer have seen some of those walls come down.
Along with Dearborn, First CRC of Detroit, North Hills CRC, and Han-Bit Korean CRC are part of the movement to expand a Reformed footprint in an area where it has dwindled, making the KEZ’s mission in Detroit even more vital.
“It’s really time for revitalization,” Jongsma said. “Obviously, the need is great in Detroit, and we want to be part of that revitalization.”