On Nov. 21, Rev. Nicholas Hood III was honored for his 25 years of service as senior minister of Plymouth United Church of Christ. But Hood’s influence has extended far beyond the pulpit.
George H. Cohen, Jr., a former principal at Cass Technical High School, and a member of Plymouth for almost 25 years, said Hood has a strong feel for where the city is and what it needs at this point, spiritually.
Rev. Hood served two terms on the Detroit City Council, elected in 1993 and again in 1997. He ran for mayor in 2009. Among his many achievements, he is a trustee at Children’s Hospital of Michigan; serves on the board of directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; on the advisory board of the Detroit School for the Arts; and as chairman of Three Pillars, a non-profit charter school management company.
Cohen said his joining the church is reflective of Hood’s ministry.
“I had attended several churches in the Detroit area for a while, three or four years,” Cohen said, adding that he found something very progressive about Hood’s ministerial style that he liked.
“It seems to me that he always addressed issues that were impacting at the time,” Cohen said. “Let’s say if there were some heinous act in the community, then, generally, he would speak to it as a part of his sermon. That really influenced my making a decision to join the church.”
He added that since joining the church, he found out that Hood is compassionate and personable, with congenial aura not all ministers have.
“He’s very responsive to his church members,” Cohen said, adding that Hood has come out and blessed the various homes, apartments and condominiums Cohen has lived in over the post 20 years.
He also described Hood as always accessible, something he said doesn’t always apply to pastors at the so-called mega-churches.
“There’s rarely an opportunity to interact with the senior minister (at a mega-church),” Cohen said. “But that is not the case with Rev. Hood.”
With regard to Hood’s political involvement, Cohen said Hood has demonstrated a level of integrity one frequently doesn’t observe in politicians.
“That was one of important characteristics I used in supporting him wholeheartedly,” Cohen said. “He’s truly a person on whom you could rely if you needed his assistance.”
He also said if Hood had moved away from Detroit as a young man, there definitely would have been a void, and that Hood would have made a good mayor.
Cohen, who served as Cass Tech’s principal from 1993 to 2006, and previously had worked as a teacher and in other positions, said he could rely on Hood — a Cass graduate — to help with anything he and the school needed.
Since 1997, Hood has urged people to ring in the new year with “a bell not a bang” (gunfire). Cohen said that ongoing campaign has had a positive impact on the community.
Phyllis Robinson, a co-chair of the celebration with Cohen, said beyond encouraging people not to shoot off guns to celebrate the new year, Hood offers an extensive program on new year’s eve night. There’s a worship service, but there’s also a family-oriented social party at the church.
Robinson also cited Hood’s efforts to house the homeless. She said the church has a large rotating homeless shelter program that it does every February. These homeless — mostly women — are housed at the church and provided with three meals. In addition, the church offers such personal grooming services as providing haircuts. She said it helps build their self-esteem.
She also cited a computer mission that has provided over 100 new computers to inner city students; a free summer camp for inner city youth who have excelled in school; and a scholarship program that’s given more than $400,000 to college students. But not only recent high school graduates, also men and women starting (or returning to) college well into adulthood.
She said Hood focuses on the whole person, not just preaching to them on Sunday mornings.
Cohen noted that Hood’s ministry isn’t just local. He has participated in several missionary efforts sponsored by his church in Cote’D Ivorie, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.
He added that Hood is always looking for ways to minister to those who seek it.
He called Hood the epitome of how a minister should conduct himself.
Rev. Dr. Hood is married to U.S District Judge Denise Page Hood and they have two sons, Nathan and Noah.
Ten a.m. worship service will take place at the church, 600 E. Warren, Nov. 21, followed by a 12:30 p.m. reception in the Thomas and Carol Goss Fellowship Hall on the lower level.
Call the church at (313) 831-2460 during business hours for more information.