This Tuesday, February 12, is best known as Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday). It is the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. In the Detroit area, the day is more commonly known as Pączki Day.
A pączki (typically pronounced punch-key or poonch-key, though more properly pronounced here) is a Polish deep-fried pastry with various fillings (fruit or cream) and often topped with powdered sugar. It is similar to a jelly doughnut but with a richer dough. (They are delicious though not ideal for dieting.)
The reason the day is known as Pączki Day in the Detroit area stems in large part from the significant Polish population in Hamtramck, MI. Though you can purchase pączkis in most bakeries around Detroit, people wait in long lines outside of the Polish bakeries in Hamtramck on Pączki Day.
More important than the pączkis are the people of Hamtramck. Hamtramck is one of two cities inside the city of Detroit (the other is Highland Park). It’s approximately 2 sq. miles and is the most densely populated city in Michigan. It is also one of the more diverse cities in Michigan, with 53.6% white (including those of Middle Eastern ancestry), 21.5% Asian, and 19.3% African American, according to the 2010 census. Some of the major ancestry groups are Polish (22%), Yugoslav (10%), and Arab (9%).
This diversity makes Hamtramck an ideal location to display the barrier breaking power of the Gospel, which is what Grace Baptist Church of Hamtramck is endeavoring to do. Grace is led by DBTS grad Jay Searcy and officially chartered in April of 2012. Below are a couple of videos providing a look at this ministry. The first is a general look at Hamtramck and Grace Baptist Church. The second is an earlier video focusing on how Jay and his family came to Hamtramck. (Thanks to Ken Tulloss for the use of the videos)