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French UMC receives the One Matters Award

Church leaders receiving award

Step TWO: The One Matters Award, presented by Discipleship Ministries, was recently given to French UMC for the difference they make in the lives of immigrants moving to Detroit.

Special Assistant to the Bishop for Congregational Vibrancy, Michigan Conference

“If it were not for French Church, I would no longer be living in Detroit. I would have received my immigration papers and moved. But because of this church and the help I received, I stayed in Detroit. I have found a church that cares.”

The congregation of French UMC has a big heart for immigrants coming to the United States from the 20-plus countries of Africa where French is spoken, including Senegal, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ~ photo courtesy Dirk Elliott

That was a comment given by one of the members of French United Methodist Church, a French-speaking church located in Birmingham, MI. He went on to explain that coming to live in the United States was a difficult transition. The outreach ministry French UMC provides to the French-speaking immigrant community makes a difference in people’s lives.

The One Matters Award is presented to the pastor and leaders of a congregation that has done significant work to grow their ministry. The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church (Discipleship Ministries) makes this award available for each annual conference to present to one church for valuable service to the community and significant contributions to the Church’s mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Along with a plaque, the church receives a gift of $1,000 from Discipleship Ministries.

This year’s One Matters Award was presented to French UMC during worship on July 23, 2023, by the Rev. Dirk Elliott, Special Assistant to the Bishop for Congregational Vibrancy, and by the Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty, superintendent of the Greater Detroit District.

When immigrants arrive in the Detroit area, many move to Freedom House, a nonprofit agency providing short-term housing for asylees and immigrants. Although housing is provided, adequate food (especially from their native land) and social services are lacking. In addition, once these immigrants must leave Freedom House, they require housing, furniture, and household items.

As part of their ministry, French UMC provides social services to newly arriving immigrants, such as:

    • A monthly meal of African food to all the residents of Freedom House (read this story to learn more)
    • Clothing when the people arrive and as the seasons change
    • Transportation to doctors, job interviews, shopping, and meetings with immigration officials
    • Assistance with finding housing, sometimes providing deposits for housing or utilities
    • Assistance with moving from Freedom House to a new residence
    • Providing fuel when needed
    • Helping with medical expenses when needed

Many immigrants moving to Detroit do not speak adequate English and have trouble communicating with medical personnel or seeking employment. Because of the uniqueness of this ministry to French-speaking people, the church provides much-needed translation, transportation, and support.

French UMC provides these social services as an opportunity to share about God’s love and the ministry of French UMC and to invite these immigrants to worship. Worship, spiritual formation, and discipleship are the core of who French UMC is as a church; therefore, they provide immigrants with a French Bible and other devotional materials. French UMC also provides a van to transport worshipers from Freedom House to French UMC for weekly worship, Bible study, and prayer time.

The mission of French UMC is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. To this end, the church’s ministry through social services is ultimately about making disciples and transforming their community.

The Michigan Conference