A group of like-minded Christians, the Flint Mission Network operates with the goal of enacting systemic change within the community. Their mission: “Proclaiming the Gospel, empowering neighbors, and lifting one another up.” And according to Assistant Director Rachel Siemen, this is accomplished by offering compassionate care, skill-developing programs and Gospel-centered teaching. The Network is comprised of two missions: Franklin Avenue Mission, York Mission and partner ministries Mercy House and the Luke Clinic.
“Flint Mission Network is fairly new,” Siemen reports. “It’s been going great!” she exclaims. “It’s crazy how fast we have grown and how much support we are getting.”
Overseeing the entire operation is Executive Director, Reverend Christian Jones, along with a board of directors. A 2019 graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO Jones received a Master’s Degree in Divinity before answering the call to the Franklin Avenue Mission. Pastor Bradley Yops was the founder and former director of the Franklin Avenue Mission but he retired, which led to the establishment of York Avenue Mission and the Flint Mission Network in 2021.
“Our mission of proclaiming the Gospel, empowering neighbors and lifting one another up reflects our drive to meet the physical, emotional, economic and spiritual needs of our community.”
Reverend Christian Jones
“This is an incredible gathering of many Christians from Genesee county and beyond who desire to see our community overcome systemic poverty,” Reverend Jones states. “Whether it is providing food and water for our neighbors struggling with homelessness, caring for those suffering from drug use or sex-trafficking or helping to train, educate and prepare community members for employment, we are surrounded by volunteers eager to commit their time and resources to love and serve their neighbors.”
Located on Flint’s east side, Franklin Avenue Mission is the Network’s primary facility. The newest ministry is York Avenue Mission, located on the city’s north end. The partner ministries are Mercy House and Luke Clinic. Wellspring Lutheran Services works with Mercy House to provide transitional housing for homeless mothers and children, and the Luke Clinic provides high-quality medical care for expectant mothers and newborns.
The Network’s mission is accomplished through a variety of programs including a dinner program, a skill-development program and a food pantry located at the York Avenue Mission, Sieman reports. Reverend Jones offers a service on Sundays at 4pm. According to the assistant director, Flint Mission Network is open to anyone in the Flint area.
“I have always had a passion for helping those in need,” Siemen shares. She attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor and graduated with a degree in family life ministry, with a focus on helping families. Fresh out of college, she worked for a church in Utica, MI that offered community outreach with meals for the homeless. “I got my feet wet there,” she says with a smile. Before his retirement in 2019, Pastor Yops invited her to join the team, where her main focus is on finance, grant-writing and program development. “We are always trying to identify the needs in the community,” she explains, “and to fill those needs with services. We find the gaps and combine our resources to create programs.”
“There is so much good in Flint – so much good!”
One particular need that was identified in the Flint area was job skill training. “We are still in the beginning phase of addressing that need,” she says. “We hope to offer more training programs such as kitchen management and landscaping.”
A small team helps keep the Flint Mission Network running smoothly, along with more than 250 volunteers from area churches. “We are so blessed to have so many people who want to help!” Siemen exclaims. “Churches are our biggest supporters.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteers provide approximately 100 hot meals at the Franklin Avenue Mission – cooking, serving and cleaning up afterward. There are some volunteers who just sit and talk with the attendees, Siemen shares. “A lot of what they do is to focus on building relationships. People come just for the social aspect. They feel welcome and enjoy having dinner together.”
The Flint Mission Network is also looking toward the future and will continue to grow. “We are always trying to find more ways to help, to fill those gaps,” says Siemen. One service they hope to provide is a place for people to wash their clothes. “Laundromats are far away for many people. We are working to create a laundry facility at the Franklin Avenue Mission.” Another unmet need is affordable child care. The Network also hopes to offer an early childhood center next year, which will be located at the Franklin Avenue Mission.
“We have such an amazing team,” Siemen shares, “and we offer the best services we can.” Before coming to Flint, she had heard about its struggles. “After living here for a while, I have learned how beautiful the city really is and I have a new appreciation for Flint. It is a beautiful city and I am glad I’m here. There is so much good in Flint – so much good!”
How to Help
If you would like to volunteer your services, visit flintmissionnetwork.org or call 810.285.9598. Donations can be made online at flintmissionnetwork.org/give/ or by mailing a check made out to the ministry you wish to support:
Franklin Avenue Mission
2210 Franklin Ave.,
Flint MI 48506