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Pastor Philip France continues legacy of uplifting communities

LYNWOOD, Ill. (June 3, 2023) – Pastor Philip S. France has been recognized by both Lansing School District 158 and Thornton Fractional District 215 for positively impacting the communities of Lynwood, Lansing, and surrounding areas through a focus on youth ministry.

A heart for service

France has served as pastor of Living Grace Church, located at 20100 Lakewood Avenue in Lynwood, since 2003. Prior to that, he served as an ordained Minister at the Apostolic Church of God under the leadership of Bishop Arthur M. Brazier for over 20 years, with 13 years as a member of the Board of Directors. 

During his time at Apostolic, France saw a positive change in the Woodlawn community that the church was housed in.

“I’ve always felt that a church should change the neighborhood. It should have a direct impact on the credibility of the community,” said France. 

This idea of social impact is something he has carried with him as a pastor. He has impacted churches and schools across communities, including Joliet, University Park, Maywood, Markham, and Lockport, Indiana. 

Today, France continues to strive for social impacts through Living Grace Church. The church is currently celebrating its anniversary, themed “Blessed To Be A Blessing.” The church’s anniversary is always focused on giving. 

Community awards

France is a recipient of the two awards for his service to school districts in Lansing. He received the District 215 Excellence Counts Award and the Illinois State Board of Education’s Those Who Excel Outstanding Community Volunteer Award after a nomination from District 158.

Both awards were received because of food donations and other philanthropic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He and Living Grace Church have done a wonderful job supporting Memorial Junior High School families with food donations and similar initiatives, including during the COVID-19 pandemic when this help was essential,” said District 158 Superintendent Dr. Nathan Schilling.

Philip France
Memorial Junior High School Principal Dr. Keli Ross (left) and District 158 Superintendent Nathan Schilling right) presenting Pastor Philip France with the Illinois State Board of Education Those Who Excel Outstanding Community Volunteer Award. (Photo provided by District 158)

Woods Community Development Corporation

Prior to becoming a pastor, France spent 25 years in various sales and marketing roles in corporate America. 

Now, France has had the opportunity to combine his business skills with service through The Woods Community Development Corporation.

Woods CDC supports, educates, and develops youth from communities by teaching practical and creative life skills through an intergenerational mentorship program. It also provides youth, their families, and other community members food and tools needed to support lifelong success in the areas of education, mentoring, life skills, quality of life, and employment. 

Woods CDC received its name because it originally started serving the communities of Lynwood, Glenwood, and Homewood. Now serving more communities, Woods CDC has partnered with numerous businesses to expand its reach. 

“If you have a heart to give, God will provide the resources,” said France.

Pastor Philip France (center, front) with Memorial Junior High Principal Dr. Keli Ross (left), 7th Grade Assistant Principal Mr. Williams (right), and Memorial Junior High students. (Provided by Philip France)


One of the programs that Woods CDC facilitates is the “B.E.S.T. Leadership Academy.”

B.E.S.T. — an acronym for Building, Empowering, Serving, Together — was originally started in 2014. Participants were middle and high school students from Lansing and Lynwood. 

Returning this summer, the five-week academy will be focused on interpersonal skills, communication, service learning, leadership, and STEM training. The program will initially be available to three schools in Districts 158, 171, and 172. 

One of the aspects France is excited about is bridging the gap between public safety and schools. Police officers associated with each school district will be integrated into the curriculum. The officers will talk about issues that the students may be facing, and how they dealt with it in their youth. 

A goal is to align the programming of B.E.S.T summer program with Memorial Junior High School’s Mighty Mustang Achieve Leaders — a seventh-to-eighth grade transition initiative that will provide student leadership and mentoring opportunities among peers.

Milestones of ministry

2023 will be a monumental year for France as he celebrates being a pastor for 20 years and 40 years of marriage and fatherhood.

“I never wanted a church to be just about themselves. You have to reach outside to help other people,” France said.

More information about the B.E.S.T summer program is available at

Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.


  1. Great article covering a great friend of mine. Pastor France has been a faithful servant, both under the leadership of Pastor, the late Dr Authur M Brazier and in his own community as Pastor of Living Grace Community Church. Thank you for this wonderful article honoring my friend.

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