Pilgrimage of Sacred Spaces – Detroit – Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was the third Presbyterian congregation established in Detroit, tracing its roots to 1854. The present day church building is also the third in the congregations history and was built in 1926 with significant funding provided by the Dodge family. The Neo-Gothic structure’s most notable feature may be it’s height at 90 feet in comparison with its 54 foot width and 125 foot length. The walls and the pews are very Yorkminster Park like, but the extended height of the clerestory windows and the balcony window are much larger.

The stained glass features the rich blues and reds commonly found in windows made in the Willet studio. The church’s carillon was the first in the city, but its Skinner organ is thought by many to be among the finest in the country. As he did in almost every church, William Maddox, introduced us to the organ and played a piece featuring some of its particular strengths. William could well have played something triumphant, but instead chose a much quieter piece as if in reverence he were letting the organ speak for itself.

The park like setting adjacent to the Detroit River also adds to the charm and beauty of the church, but it is the incredible commitment of the congregation to serve the social needs of the community around, through tutorial programs for children as well as the offering of food and clothing to those in transition that made the greatest impression. Jefferson Avenue is also a centre for music and culture. We were grateful to their young minister, the Rev. Matt Nickel, who has himself moved back into the city in which he was raised. With both the beautiful space and the wonderful offerings of Christian service, it was no wonder so many of our pilgrims were drawn to this place. It felt like the way the church should be. It felt like home.

One of our pilgrims, Rob Mee, a gifted musician and photographer has posted some absolutely remarkable photos of this sacred space along with the others we visited and can be viewed on his website at: https://focusonmee.com/detroit-michigan/

Grace and Peace,