Moving on Up with Bishop Dr. A. Barnes


by Beth Robinson

So, I’m sitting in this church in Hamtramck. It’s getting dark outside, and darker inside because there’s no electricity in the church. Nothing flowing between DTE and The International Beginning Ministries Church on Grayling Street.

But, amazingly, there is power. In the absence of electricity, there is a palpable sense of possibility.

We will have electricity. We will find the money to get the lights turned on. We will fill this building with people. We will be a powerful part of building community in this neighborhood. We will take young people off the streets and put them to work painting this church, mowing the lawn, helping out the neighbors. We will encourage the discouraged and bring light where there is darkness, not just in this building, but in the hearts of those we touch. Amen.

When a good comedian does his shtick, he laughs. And his laughter brings the audience inside the joke. They laugh with, rather than at. They get inside the humor.

I was in this little church on a sticky hot summer night because Bishop Barnes gives thanks the same way. As we were talking about his plans for the church and the youth ministry there, he kept saying how thankful he was to God that he was getting to do this work. And as he gave thanks, I felt myself being drawn into that sense of gratitude. I was getting thankful right along with him. And I was feeling this sense of possibility right along with him. I was getting inspired, feeling that breath of God, that sense that with God all things are possible.

So, in that darkening little church, instead of seeing what was missing, all I could feel was God. And so, all things felt possible.

I met Bishop Barnes at the Interfaith Picnic on Belle Isle a few weeks ago. I liked him right away. Some people are just conduits for the spirit of God and that spirit is a wonderful thing to be around. And I’m always looking for a good interfaith story, and he was talking about his youth program. And I thought that might be a nice story for our weekly interfaith newsletter. So, I said I’d call him and he could tell me about it. And he thought that was just wonderful. But would I come on down because then I could really see it.

Yeah, well, I’d love to, but I live in West Bloomfield, and I’m in Ann Arbor during the day, and I’d really like to write about it, but If I wait till I have time to drive to Hamtramck, who knows when it might get done.

So, we set up this call. And we were talking and he says to me again. “I sure would love it if you came down here. We’re having a meeting tomorrow night.”

I’ve been a writer for a long time. And I’ve done a lot of media too. So, I know this dance of “come see my thing and write about it,” but that wasn’t what this was. And if it was, it was not Bishop Barnes calling, it was God.

God was telling me to come on down and see what he could create in the hearts of a bunch of people sitting around in a dark church in Hamtramck. Write about that, he was saying. Tell people how it feels when a problem is attacked with pure spirit.

Last year I wrote about being in Kirk in the Hills. It’s hard to see something that beautiful and not feel the hand of God in it. This week, I’m writing about another beautiful church. It’s the church (or synagogue or temple or gurdwara) inside of each of us where we feel the breath of God and know what needs doing and that we are, thankfully, just the person to do it.

Bishop Dr. A. Barnes presents “Moving on Up” Watch every Wednesday morning at 10 am Comcast Ch. 20 in Detroit or On-Demand at or listen every Tusday at 2:30 pm on 1440 AM WDRJ.

If you’d like to help get the lights on at International Beginning Ministries Church for All People, send a donation to P.O. Bo 10422, Detroit, MI. 48210