facebook script

Can't find something?

We're here to help.

Send us an email at:

[email protected]

and we'll get back with you as soon as possible.

Blessed by Grace

Preaching at a church conference

Revisit Rev. Grace Imathiu’s inspiring messages from this year’s Michigan Annual Conference and then utilize the brand-new discussion guides for small groups.

Michigan Conference Communications

Suppose the website Rotten Tomatoes offered ratings of recorded sermons and Bible studies. In that case, this reviewer gives Rev. Grace Imathiu’s presentations at the June meeting of the Michigan Annual Conference a 100% must-see rating.

And just as we enthusiastically pass the word to others about great experiences in our lives, like dining at a fabulous new restaurant, I urge you to make time to learn from Grace Imathiu by viewing her recorded Bible study on the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis and her sermon on the life-changing story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman from Matthew’s Gospel.

After revisiting these messages and learning from this gifted communicator of the gospel, get a group together at your church to view and discuss them further. Click this link for helpful discussion suggestions for small groups based on these presentations.

In the story of Joseph, Imathiu remembers the assurance that faith in God gives us. Even in times of great difficulty, God is at work. She further helps us understand Joseph’s lamentation as a mirror of our own troubles. Living through a pandemic and dealing with real conflict in politics, our world, our congregations, and even our own families is cause for lament. Just as Joseph wept before his brothers, we should permit ourselves to grieve real loss.

In a story about her homeland of Kenya, as seen in an episode of the Netflix series The Crown, Imathiu helps us see God working behind the scenes in the lives of significant people who are not even known to the English royal flying over Kenya who may live with the impression that she embodies the main storyline. Imathiu asserts that we are all siblings in God’s story and difficult circumstances can bring us closer together.

In her Sunday morning sermon about Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, Imathiu helps us feel the drama of a desperate mother from a severely persecuted minority group who dares to risk coming out in public to confront Jesus with a bold appeal for his help with healing for her son. Imathiu identifies the stakes for the mother’s safety and for Jesus, who dares to offer healing despite the severe cultural and historical prejudice against such an act.

Grace Imathiu was raised in the home of one of United Methodism’s great spiritual leaders. Her father, Lawi Imathiu, was the first Methodist bishop of Kenya in Africa. Kenyan Methodism grew from 8,000 to 225,000 members in thirty years under his leadership. He began missions with nomadic tribes in Kenya and expanded ministry to include Uganda and Tanzania. From 1986 to 1991, Grace Imathiu’s father was the first African ever to serve as president of the World Methodist Council. He received the World Methodist Peace Award in 2005, was co-founder of Kenya Methodist University, and served many years in the Parliament of Kenya.

Like her father, Grace is a global Methodist witness for the gospel. She is a United Methodist pastor, author, and popular speaker. Her ministry in Kenya includes service as a church planter, a superintendent overseeing 68 rural churches in Nkubu, and an urban minister to an ecumenical congregation in Nairobi with outreach to the neighboring slums of Kawangware. She received her education in Kenya, the United States, Israel, and England. Since coming to the United States, Grace has served congregations in Washington, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Illinois. She is currently Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Evanston, IL.

Preacher leading Bible study at church conference
Rev. Imathiu led Bible study on Saturday morning, on the story of Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis. ~ MIphoto/Jonathan Trites

One of her parishioners in Evanston is retired Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader. Rader, who served in Michigan prior to her election as bishop in 1992, has known Grace Imathiu since she first heard Imathiu as a teenager preach at the World Methodist Council meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1986. Rader is grateful that Imathiu later accepted Rader’s invitation to postpone further postgraduate academic work at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, to serve as pastor of churches in Green Bay and later at Brown Deer while Rader was Bishop of Wisconsin.

Rader knows that Imathiu has exceptional preaching gifts. “Grace brings herself totally to her preaching. As an African woman of deep faith, with an exceptional education and a great mind, she is able to ask questions of the Bible and speak prophetically to issues with integrity in a compelling way. She is a dynamic preacher who can inspire others to grow in faith.”

Grace radiates love for people. She is passionate about nurturing faith communities to live out the prophetic story of Jesus. She believes Jesus’ love in community is best expressed in radical hospitality and living together in a loving tension that is ideological, theological, racial, ethnic, and cultural.

Like Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, Rev. Imathiu believes the world is her parish. Grace advocates for the inclusion of all people. She has preached in Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Togo, Liberia, Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, and throughout the United States.

Rev. Marsha Woolley, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Northville, MI, has known Grace and her family for twenty years. They met while attending a United Methodist jurisdictional conference while Woolley was serving as associate pastor at Ann Arbor: First UMC. They struck up a friendship, resulting in Imathiu inviting the youth drama troupe and their director, Beth Miller, and Woolley and her church members to Kenya. In subsequent years, the congregation took multiple mission trips to Kenya, where they participated in school construction, education, building a library, and helping to train and equip a school band. This transatlantic connection for Christ changed lives for the good on two continents.

As the Worship Coordinator for the 2023 Annual Conference, Woolley was privileged to introduce Imathiu to the assembly. Woolley also knew Grace was the right voice to address what the conference has been dealing with, from the aftershocks of a prolonged pandemic, church disaffiliations over inclusion matters, and a contentious national political climate.

In her message to Michigan United Methodists, Imathiu offers permission to grieve and space to remember that God works for our good in many ways, even in times of great challenge. Woolley is grateful that the pandemic taught the church how to spread the word about the love of Jesus to our communities online. She also believes that Grace Imathiu’s message of hope and love delivered at Annual Conference this year will keep on giving to others as it continues to be shared for our greater good.

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

The Michigan Conference