Pastor Sees Canton As The Promised Land Print

CCF In The News

**Article re-printed here with permission from the Canton Observer-Eccentric Newspaper

Pastor Sees Canton As The Promised Land


When David Washington, Jr. decided he was going to start his own church in his native metro Detroit, he knew right from the beginning he wanted it to be in Canton. He says it is what God had wanted him to do.

Next month, Washington expects to fulfill his pledge to the Almighty and open the doors of the Canton Christian Fellowship Church, which is located in the old state unemployment office at Joy Road and Ronda Drive. When he does, it will mark the culmination of long journey for Washington and his fledgling church.

The actual beginnings of the church took place in St. John Neumann Catholic Church in 2000, when Washington started a Bible study group. Back then, there were only 10 adults and 10 children, but the group quickly grew to twice that number. Since then, they have moved around a bit, first to the Canton CrossWinds Church in 2001 and to Eriksson Elementary School a year later.

Ever since, the congregation has been housed in the Good Shepherd Reformed Church in Westland, which they have shared with two other church congregations.

"We chose that location because they had two sanctuaries over there. We went over there with a total of 35 people and quickly grew to 160. We have outgrown that facility," Washington said.

Washington, who is the son of a Baptist minister, grew up in Southfield and is a 1989 graduate of Birmingham Brother Rice, where he starred in basketball. He landed an athletic scholarship to play for Johnny Orr at Iowa State University, and he had dreams of a becoming a professional basketball player.

He ended up transferring and ultimately graduating from Grand Rapids Baptist College (now Cornerstone University) with a business marketing degree. After college he landed a marketing job with Ford Motor Company and ended up in California. 

Although he was leading a cushy corporate life, Washington says the ministry was never too far from his mind. He said it became more and more evident to him that God wanted him to become a minister and form his own church, and in 1998 he "surrendered to the call." So he began attending seminary school to become an ordained minister.

It then became a matter of where. Washington says he prayed daily to determine where God wanted him to form a church. 

Once that decision was made, Washington said God was pointing him toward Canton, even though he didn't know much about the community. Once he did a little research, Washington realized why. Canton was attractive because it has a diverse population, which is something Washington is also hoping to have with his church. Currently, of the church's 60 families, Washington said most are black, but there are seven white families, something he hopes will expand as the church grows. About 70 percent of the congregation lives in Canton.

"Our dream has always been to be a multi-ethnic church," he said. "God has given me the opportunity to be around all kinds of people. Having gone through all the experiences I have, I believe God was setting me up for what he had planned for my life, and that is to reach all kinds of people."

They couple moved to Canton in September of 2000, and began the Bible study group two months later.

Washington says he has been looking for property in Canton for some time, but land prices have risen so drastically he began to give up hope. Then he found the old unemployment office, which his congregation has transformed into a 235-seat church. He hopes to have the first service on Jan. 22, he said.

Canton Christian Fellowship's symbol is a lighthouse, something Washington takes seriously.

"A lighthouse is a beacon, and it doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you are a black boat, a white boat, or a blue boat. That's the way I feel about our church. We welcome everyone," he said.

For more information about Canton Christian Fellowship Church, which is located at 8775 Ronda Drive, call (734) 404-2480 or visit the Web site,

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (734) 459-2700

Originally published December 22, 2005