Detroit Pastor Who Held Services With Only Three People in Church Sanctuary for More Than a Year Conducts First In-Person Easter Services Since 2019

Reverend Dr. Marvin Youmans prepares before a Bible study at the Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

Originally from South Carolina, the Rev. Marvin Youmans is not about to call himself an expert on the city of Detroit.

However, there is one section of the city that Youmans is proud to claim.

“You can say the North End is my area,” said Youmans, who for the past 25 years has been the pastor of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church located on Oakland Avenue in the North End. “What I know about Detroit is the North End, and the North End is where I got my grounding in this city.”

On Sunday, Youmans, 77, and his congregation will come together — to celebrate their faith and spiritual sense of place — for the first in-person Easter services in the Mt. Carmel sanctuary since 2019, before the pandemic took hold.

It is a scene that is likely to be echoed across churches in Detroit, but few will have the distinct North End flavor that will be felt at Mt. Carmel.

Youmans’ strong ties to the North End can be traced back to 1977 when the former Northern High School principal came North to pursue a career in education. But his connection to the ministry runs even deeper, as he has followed in the footsteps of five minister family members who came before him. Youmans explained that the ministry of his grandfather, father, brother, uncle and sister-in-law inspired him to come down to Mt. Carmel every Sunday alone, from April 2020 through July 2021, to conduct virtual services during the pandemic in front of an empty sanctuary.

“During those Sundays it was just me, along with our musician Michael Gordon and LaTasha Ellis, who posted our services onto our Facebook page,” said Youmans, who was on the ministerial staff at nearby Greater New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church before coming to Mt. Carmel. “I thought it was important for members to see me in the church, in ministerial attire, to show that they could be away from the church and still be in it. Besides, on Sunday, you’re just supposed to be in church–in the House of God.

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SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, Scott Talley