In recognition of Black History Month, Brighton Patch (MI) is highlighting modern-day community leaders and trailblazers who live or work in the area. Aysha Jamali writes on The Rev. Deon K. Johnson and the work of St. Paul’s Church, Brighton:
Johnson, who worked as a priest in Ohio, read about St. Paul’s and was intrigued by their programs, like adopting families through LACASA, and openness.
“They were welcoming to anybody – gay, lesbian, whether you were conservative or not,” he said.
Johnson is changing the face of his congregation by including youth and adding flexibility. His and the parish’s openness allows for flexibility on issues that some may think are set in stone, like Sunday service.
“Is Sunday morning the best time for our community to get together? It may be Sunday evenings,” he said.
He said he is talking with the congregation, particularly the 20 to 30 age group, to see whether a new time for service is more beneficial….
Johnson has also moved the congregation to pick projects to help Brighton or Livingston County residents that can be completed within a year.
“Often if you start something, it will go until the second coming. And the reality is people don’t want to do the same thing for 50 or 60 years anymore,” he said.
Projects include providing middle school students with school supplies, working with homeless teen center Connection Youth Services and creating an organic farm that donates produce to Gleaners Food Bank and feeds those at The Emrich Retreat Center.
The farm started as a garden that would donate produce to Gleaners, Johnson said. A parishioner who was studying to be a farmer bought about 30 acres and now continues it as an organic farm, he said.