DETROIT (Michigan News Source) – After nearly 90 years of hosting Christians for worship under several names, the Detroit World Outreach Church was purchased by a group of Muslim leaders and has become the Masjid an Nour: World Peace Association.
Following the death of its pastor in 2017, Benjamin Gibert, the megachurch went into bankruptcy. The 18 acres of property containing several buildings of more than 200,000 square feet, a main sanctuary seating 4,200, kitchens, a gym and coffee house, sold for $4.2 million. Islamic clerics led prayers inside the building for the first time on Aug. 24.
“It’s going to be one of the largest institutions in Michigan,” said Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi, chairman of the Michigan Muslim Community Council, who led a group in buying the church. “It’s going to be a unifying institution. Our mission is going to be charity, community service, outreach, interfaith, in addition to a house of worship.”
Al-Hadidi said the Redford mosque will primarily be Sunni, but will be open to Shias as well, with a “unifying mission, nonsectarian.”
The conversion of the large church to a mosque demonstrates the growth of the Muslim community in Michigan, where there are now about 140 mosques, according to Free Press reporting and a study released last year by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research center founded in metro Detroit that studies Muslim Americans. The study found that mosques in Michigan expanded 65% from 2010 to 2020 – the highest percentage increase in the U.S. among states.
Accompanying Al-Hadidi on the first day of prayers was Shia Muslim leader Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights who helped lead prayers. Detroit World Outreach was once located in Dearborn Heights in the same building that is currently Elahi’s mosque, the Islamic House of Wisdom.
Southfield attorney Mark Shapiro, who was assigned to oversee the Church’s bankruptcy case, said a judge confirmed the Chapter 11 plan of reorganization to get Detroit World Outreach out of bankruptcy. At one point the church was listed for $7.1 million, though it was bid on in July and finalized at $4.2 million in August.
Detroit World Outreach now resides at 18700 Joy Road in Detroit and extends a welcome to all worshippers, said Bishop CJ Andre.
The church started in 1934 and has theological roots in the Assemblies of God – a Pentecostal denomination – but does not belong to any denomination presently Andre said.