For many in the Motor City, hard times are nothing new. Crippled by high unemployment and and foreclosure rates, the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013. These are frightening statistics, but an inner-city church has decided to use scare tactics, of a different kind, to raise funds to help those dealing with real-life traumas. Jamey Tucker reports in this UMTV encore.
(Locator: Detroit, MI)
In a Detroit neighborhood that can be scarier than any movie...
The Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass Community United Methodist Church: "Young people in our city know what hell is like. Last week, seven were shot dead in high school."
a 127-year-old building provides the perfect haunt for ghosts and goblins.
(Sound of screams)
But it's not your typical haunted house. This is a church.
(Voice of the Rev. Faith Fowler) "Often we say our slogan is Cass Church will scare the hell out of you."
The Reverend Faith Fowler is pastor of Cass Community United Methodist on Sunday mornings, but on Saturday nights she takes her place among the ghouls.
Ironically, this haunted house serves the homeless.
(Voice of the Rev. Faith Fowler) "On any given night we have 100 homeless women and children who count on us to provide for their basic needs. We do three meals a day, seven days a week, 20,000 meals a week."
The annual fundraiser draws hundreds of people each night and raises ten to fifteen thousand dollars that provides food, shelter, and medical care for families in crisis. The operation spans a full city block and helps thousands of people every year.
Michael Mason, Haunted House Volunteer: "If it wasn't for this church, I'd probably still be on drugs, still out there on the streets doing whatever I can to get high."
Linda MacNeall, Haunted House Volunteer: "All of those proceeds go to keep women and children together who are homeless and to give them a sense of family and a sense of belonging."
Not everyone likes the idea of a church running a haunted house. In the past, there have been protestors. But Fowler says most neighbors are supportive of the project and the programs it provides for.
The Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass Community United Methodist Church: "Most of the traditional fundraisers wouldn't work. A church supper? Well, the homeless aren't going to pay to eat here. Or a rummage sale? Again, they just didn't fit this neighborhood."
Markita Thompson, Haunted House Visitor: "I 'm glad to contribute. It was scary though. It had me running."
The eight building Cass Community complex includes accommodations for men, women and children; a residential program for men living with HIV/AIDS; and a day shelter for Detroit's homeless, as well as green industries that provide vocational training.
Cass recently moved the haunted house out of the church building to an new location with a new name, "Nightmare on Elmhurst." Learn more about the haunted house or programs supported by Cass Community United Methodist Church.
Cass Community's latest project is building affordable tiny homes in Detroit.
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2008. News media contact: Joe Iovino.