St. Scholastica's 'big tent' revival draws Christians of all denominations to praise God

Catholics and Christians of other denominations extend their hands in prayer over Fr. Jim Lowe, CC, pastor of St. Scholastica Parish in Detroit, to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire his preaching Sept. 6 during the parish's “Become the Fire Big Tent Revival.” (Photos by Michael Stechschulte | Detroit Catholic)

Extension of parish's monthly praise-and-worship gatherings designed to provide 'shallow entry point' to Catholic faith

DETROIT — Bill Richart looked out at nearly 200 people gathered under the big tent at St. Scholastica Parish on Sept. 6, and asked a rhetorical question.

“Does anybody have a reason to praise the Lord tonight?” Richart asked. 

“Amen!” the response loudly rang back. “Hallelujah!”

“Does anybody have 10,000 reasons?” Richart asked again. 

“Hallelujah!” was again the thunderous reply, followed by loud cheers.

Members of the northwest Detroit parish had plenty of reasons to give thanks to God as the parish held its first “Become the Fire Big Tent Revival” outside on a warm late summer Friday evening. 

People raise their hands in praise as they sing worship hymns during St. Scholastica's “Become the Fire Big Tent Revival.”

A diverse congregation of young and old, black and white, Catholic and non-Catholic gathered under the carnival-style tent to clap, pray, sing and offer praise. Many brought Bibles to follow along with readings from Scripture and preaching given by St. Scholastica pastor Fr. Jim Lowe, CC.

The Gospel-style revival was part of St. Scholastica's efforts to expand its evangelization outreach in the city, an extension of the parish's popular monthly praise and worship series, called “Become the Fire,” Fr. Lowe said. 

“The goal of this event is to proclaim the Gospel beyond the confines of our church by going out into the neighborhood and beyond,” Fr. Lowe said. “Our hope is to have a 'shallow entry point' through which the Holy Spirit can lead new people into an encounter with Christ.”

The “shallow entry point” mentality is a key component of Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron's pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, Fr. Lowe said, which challenges parishes to create opportunities beyond the traditional offerings of Mass to attract lapsed or non-Catholics to encounter Jesus in a low-pressure setting.

Given the success of St. Scholastica's monthly charismatic prayer gatherings, Fr. Lowe credited the Holy Spirit with the inspiration for moving the gathering outside. 

Bill Richart, right, leads praise and worship with members of the “Become the Fire” music ministry team.

Richart, who leads music ministry for the monthly charismatic prayer gatherings, said the revival was a chance for St. Scholastica to reach out and invite people from all different denominations to experience God's presence in a Catholic setting.

“It is a joy to praise with friends, to lift up the name of Jesus,” Richart said. “I love that whether you’re Catholic or Baptist or AME or Methodist, you’re my brother and sister in Jesus, and we’re going to rejoice in what unites us.”

Fr. Lowe, who began a new assignment as pastor of St. Scholastica on July 1, preached during the revival, which featured ice cream, faith sharing, resources and hospitality, in addition to lively music, raised hands, healing prayer and spontaneous faith-sharing testimonies. 

“The important thing for us to realize is, we are loved by God. God has a plan for us, but sin comes in and temptation comes in,” Fr. Lowe said. “We start looking at other things, and we stop looking at our Beloved. The good news is, Jesus restores this relationship whenever we go after these other things.”

Attendees break open their Bibles during faith sharing at St. Scholastica's “Become the Fire Big Tent Revival.”

“We need to continue after that, walking with him. We need to continue being part of a good community of faith and reading the word and receiving His grace in as many ways as possible,” Fr. Lowe added.

Before and after Fr. Lowe's talk, Richart led the nine-person band in singing praise and worship songs, including Matt Redman's “10,000 Reasons,” Chris Tomlin's “Good Good Father” and classics such as “Amazing Grace” and the Gospel-inspired “There's Something Mighty Sweet About the Lord.” 

The revival, which St. Scholastica advertised as open to all faiths, attracted attendees from as far away as Fort Wayne, Ind., Howell and Monroe. 

St. Scholastica's “Become the Fire” monthly prayer gatherings

The next praise-and-worship gathering at St. Scholastica Parish, 8201 W. Outer Drive, Detroit, will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4. To learn more, visit the parish's website.