Serving the Marginalized – Rev. Richard Meeks
By: Emily Lehner
Reverend Richard Meeks currently serves as Superintendent for the East Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. He and his coworkers focus on racial reconciliation and helping those in need.
Meeks, (Marion College, ‘84), says that he felt his call to ministry long before he set foot on campus. In sixth grade, Meeks realized that God’s plan for him involved ministry. In eighth grade, he preached his first sermon. After graduating high school, Meeks enlisted in the military and served there until his decision to leave in pursuit of an education in ministry. “I knew I had a strong sense of call to ministry,” he said.
Meeks has since served in many places — from Arizona to Southern California to Michigan. Before taking his position as East Michigan District Supervisor, he pastored a church in Southern California and spent some time working for The Wesleyan Headquarters.
One of Meeks’ primary focuses is church planting. Currently, he has helped plant a church in Detroit, Michigan called Mosaic Midtown Church. When asked what group of people this church reaches out to, Meeks responded, “We are so diverse in East Michigan. The churches we plant are mostly multi-cultural and multi-racial.”
Meeks’ main goal through church planting in the East Michigan area is racial reconciliation. “It requires much humility and we obviously don’t have all the answers. It takes a full surrender to the Lord, Jesus Christ,” he says. He believes they have seen progress and been able to break down barriers in this area. “We have really seen people come together as the body of Christ,” he stated.
The East Michigan District is currently focused on helping resolve the Flint Water Crisis. While there is a significant amount of the Flint population who cannot use their water, they are taking steps toward fixing this by establishing Flint Grassroots Initiative (FGI). FGI provides clean water, hygiene centers, physical and mental care, fresh fruits and vegetables, Spanish language volunteers and job training all with the goal of reconciliation with the marginalized in mind. “FGI is all geared around building a system, around the system, in place to deal with this massive crisis,” Meeks said. Read more about the FGI and how you can help by clicking this link: http://flintgrassroots.org/.
Meeks’ work on reconciliation revolves around meeting the population’s physical needs, as well as their spiritual. “You have to be willing to accept and love people where they are and allow God to do the deep work within you. You have to work hard at building relationships with other people and reaching those who don’t know Christ,” says Meeks. He continues to pursue ministry in Detroit, fully relying on Christ to guide him.
Emily Lehner is a writer for the Alumni Center, and is a first year Writing major. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com. Her blog includes personal trials, triumphs, and devotion style writing.