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Diversity Niche Shines in Michigan

Brightmoor Christian Church in Novi is a pace-setting, soul-winning church.

Brightmoor Christian Church in Novi, Michigan, is a lighthouse for ethnic accord and creative multicultural ministries. Its diverse ethnic mix includes 40 percent African-American, 50 percent Caucasian, and 10 percent from Romania, Hungary, and other foreign nations.

A wave of younger Romanian couples recently joined the church. Shunning a trendy seeker-friendly church model, they prefer Brightmoor's conservative theology and passionate worship. Seniors into their 90s raise their hands in praise alongside teenagers.

"We are a slice of what heaven will look like," says Senior Pastor Jamie Kjos. "We are all equal at the foot of the cross."

Located about 20 miles northwest of downtown Detroit on a 43-acre campus, Brightmoor is the Wolverine State's largest and fastest-growing church, with an average Sunday attendance of more than 2,700 worshippers and a staff of 26.

"Brightmoor is a pace-setting and soul-winning church with a strong Pentecostal message," says AG Michigan District Superintendent William Leach.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are encouraged and in use in many services. At times, hundreds flock to the altar spontaneously. People come to accept Christ as Savior weekly and join a waiting list for water baptism.

Creative ministries thrive at Brightmoor. The Mission 117 outreach, based on the challenge of Isaiah 1:17, serves a handful of older teenagers who have left the foster care system. They live in a church-owned residence supervised by house parents who teach life skills under a Christian influence.  

Other ministries include Kid's Camps for foster children and a monthly mentoring program for foster care providers. In nearby Dearborn, home to the largest Arab-American population in the U.S., the church offers weekly English classes to Muslim women and children using the Bible as a text. It also conducts weekly services at local prisons and jails. Last year, 600 inmates received Christ as Savior and 100 were baptized as a result of the outreach.

Brightmoor partners with the Henry Ford Hospital & Health System to deliver free medical and dental services to impoverished neighborhoods via two church-owned trailers. Dentists who are church members fill cavities and remove teeth, and the hospital provides physicians for exams.

Kjos says the church follows James 2:16-17 to earn the right to be heard. Brightmoor sponsors an annual Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast drawing 700 people. Kjos seeks to bring the love, hope, and life-changing power of Christ to the greater Detroit area and racial harmony to a diverse community.

"God is using us to bring a message of unity and a bond of peace through Christ," Kjos says.

Experiencing packed services, Brightmoor launched an ambitious $23 million expansion program last November to double the sanctuary's size and add children's and youth ministry centers. Congregants already have committed $6.5 million to the new project, on the heels of burning two mortgages in 2014 totaling $4.1 million. Giving above and beyond normal patterns and during a weak economy, the congregation paid off the mortgages in just four years.

The diversity represented at Brightmoor is reflective of the growing diversity within the Assemblies of God nationally. More than 40 percent of Assemblies of God adherents in the United States are non-white, ethnic minority.


Peter K. Johnson

Peter K. Johnson is a freelance writer living in Saranac Lake, New York. More than 500 of his articles and short stories have appeared in Christian and mainstream magazines and newspapers, including the Pentecostal Evangel,Charisma, the Saturday Evening Post, Guideposts, and Decision. He also serves as a consultant and contributing editor to a scientific journal.