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In a ceremony on Sept. 9, Reverend Grace Imathiu was installed as the new senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, 516 Church St. With unanimous and enthusiastic approval of the First Church Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Rev. Imathiu succeeds Reverend Dean Francis, who retired after 23 years as senior pastor.
Rev. Imathiu brings a rich ministerial experience spanning the United States and Africa. She served churches in Kenya as a church planter; a superintendent minister overseeing 68 rural churches in Nkubu; and an urban minister to an ecumenical congregation in Nairobi with strong outreach to the neighboring slums of Kawangware.
In the U.S. she served churches in Green Bay and Milwaukee, and most recently in Naperville where she served as senior pastor of Community United Methodist Church.
Rev. Imathiu’s formal education includes study in Kenya as well as West Virginia Wesleyan College, Methodist Theological School of Ohio, University of Cambridge, Hebrew University and Vanderbilt University.
She sees the world as her parish. An African who is married to a European and is raising an American son, she is committed to advocating for the inclusion of all people. Her sermons are often interpreted as tools of justice on the intersections of religion, race, sexuality and gender. Rev. Imathiu has been an open ally and activist for the LGBTQI community since 1997.
“It is both exciting and humbling to join the ministry of ‘The First House of Worship in Evanston’ where many of Evanston’s movers and shakers such as John Evans, Orrington Lunt, Frances Willard and Bishop Edsel Ammons found a spiritual home,” said Rev. Imathiu. “God has been at work throughout my life to prepare me for a time such as this.”