Detroit is one of the oldest cities in the Midwest, founded in 1701 by the French. They would have pronounced the city’s name “day–twah,” (instead of the way we Midwesterners say “dee-troyt”). Starting as a small fur trading post, Detroit developed into a thriving center for industry throughout the 1800s. By the 1950s, Detroit was the 4th largest American city, and a hopeful example for a bright American future. After this peak, however, many factors led to severe population decline and both economic and physical decay in Detroit.

A long history of racial tension eventually boiled over into large–scale rioting, causing many to flee the city after the riots of 1943 and 1967. The ‘67 rioting was an especially negative turning point for Detroit, resulting in 43 deaths, 1,189 injuries, and over $32 million worth of property damage from looting and fires. These riots are a painful part of Detroit’s past that many of the long–term residents still remember. Another huge factor in the city’s decline is the fall of the auto industry in more recent years. Since 2001, Detroit’s “Big Three” (Chrysler, GM, and Ford), had their employment rate fall 49% from 214,000 to 109,000. When a city heavily relies on one type of industry and that industry doesn’t do well, it has an incredible impact on the city as a whole. A massive amount of employees who had worked in Detroit’s auto industry for many years, now find themselves unemployed without many other options for employment. These factors combined with other issues that plague most large cities such as homelessness, a failing public school system, and endless stories of violence on the news, cause things to seem pretty bleak for Detroit.

However, despite all the negatives, God is currently engaged in an undeniable and beautiful work to restore this city. Ministries and churches all over Detroit are working hard to meet the needs of those who have been broken by the city’s past. Some have been at this work for years while some have just begun, and CSM is honored to partner with many of these faithful servants in bringing about reconciliation. After a majority of the city was leveled by a fire in 1805, Father Gabriel Richard created this motto for Detroit: “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.” And many Detroiters still cling to this idea – no matter how bad things look on the surface, there is incredible hope here.

  • “CSM blends a passion for the inner-city with a heart for the youth and families who come to serve. It’s mission and service at it best.”

    Dann Spader, Founder of Sonlife Ministries
  • I LOVE the concept of the ministry, and the opportunities to engage the individual folks on the street and hear their stories were priceless!
    I know our kids will be impacted for a long time to come:)

    Group Leader
  • Thank you for a wonderful experience and for my students. I know that they not only enjoyed themselves, but has left them with some wonderful memories. Detroit is a wonderful city and is in need of more help! Thank you again for your organization and for making a difference to the people of Detroit.

    Group Leader
  • My hopes and prayers for my College group were met.  I believe,  by God’s grace,  each of us had a life-changing experience by serving together in each of the Ministry sites. It was a joy to come along-side the work God is doing in the Churches and Ministries in Nashville. Thank you again for your wisdom and friendship.

    Group Leader
  • Thank you for making this a memorable trip for me. I have done a few student mission trips in the past, but none as well organized and thought out as this.

    Group Leader
  • I love CSM’s philosophy of ministry and mission. That’s why I brought a new church to you guys this past summer. I look forward to doing other trips in the future with CSM

    Group Leader
  • Thank you for being a part of our ministry and for helping our students get some perspective on serving and helping those living in poverty. I appreciated the fact that the students were given the opportunity to make and impact and to be impacted.

    Group Leader
  • Thank you for having a great organization where people are given the opportunity to learn and serve those in need. Thank you for treating our group with respect and having a great host to share our experience with. God bless you all.

    Group Leader
  • “Here at the Cartel, we think it’s cool that they have year-round, long-term relationships with their ministry partners within the cities they work in. In other words their strategy is like ours…we develop long-term collaborative ministry partners within an ecosystem we call “the Cartel” and CSM does the same type of thing within the short-term missions world, developing long-term collaborative mission partnerships.

    Adam McLane, Partner at The Youth Cartel
  • I can confidently say that the CSM is doing short term mission trips as well as they can be done. The work of CSM is thoughtful, wise, symbiotic, and generative… and CSM is doing a brilliant job furthering the Kingdom of God. I am delighted to call them a partner in the revolution.

    Shane Claiborne
  • If Christians are to make an impact for the Kingdom in the 21st century, they must live out the call to be Jesus’ hands and feet to the poor and needy. CSM gives young people and adults the opportunity to do just that in North America’s inner–cities.

    Tony Campolo
City Staff
Erica is a Minnesota native who moved to Detroit to attend college at Wayne State University where she studied Political Science. She worked for CSM Detroit as a City Host in 2015 and quickly realized that service means so much more when Jesus is the root of why you're serving. As she finished up her senior year (2017), she was Detroit's first Apprentice. After graduation and moving back to Minnesota for five months, God opened the door for her to come back to Detroit with another opportunity to serve! Her favorite part of working for CSM is seeing people come to Detroit with ideas of how the city might be, and then leave feeling at home, safe, and like they have something new to be passionate about. Her favorite parts of Detroit are the people and their resilience, the vast amount of culture because of the variety of immigrant populations, and the Eastern Market, a year round farmers market.
City Director
Emily graduated from Grand Valley State University, studying English and History. Originally from Sterling Heights, MI (a suburb of Detroit), she has always been fascinated with the city that her grandparents’ generation fled. Her first real experience with Detroit (aside from going to Tigers baseball games), was a service trip she took with her youth group in high school to help out with a summer camp for kids in the city. Emily was struck so profoundly with the discrepancies between suburb and city that seemed unfair and prompted her to ask herself a lot of tough questions She is excited about the ways in which CSM will be able to facilitate this work; to open doors for ready and willing hands to serve in meaningful ways that will better the ministries and organizations that work hard every day in this city. She is also thrilled for those who will be able to participate in these trips and catch a glimpse of the powerful things God is up to in Detroit.